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In the concluding part of a series that has dealt entirely with ducks, Abhishek Mukherjee creates an all-time XI of players with ducky names.
Cricketers are meant to be ducky: over the years they have been charming, delightful icons who had left us in awe over their skills on the field. Some have set the ground alight with their blazing stroke-play; some others have skittled stumps like ninepins; and others have brought joy with their feline elegance on the field.
What, then, about an XI with ‘ducky’ names?
1. Bill Lawry
Certainly not the ‘duckiest’ man to the audience, but Lawry’s presence at the top would provide solidity to the line-up. Dour, no-nonsense, and uncompromising, The Phantom would ensure that one end is held up when his captain enters the fray. Then they can have that 500-run partnership. That nose, one can only presume, will be able to hide his ‘bill’.
2. Matthew Wade
The promising career of Wade is being put on hold by Brad Haddin the same way Haddin’s had been by Adam Gilchrist and Gilchrist’s had been done by Ian Healy. His time will come. Meanwhile, for our ducky XI, he will have to show more dynamic: wading will not do. He will play as an opening batsman, since we have another wicketkeeper down the order.
3. Donald Bradman (captain)
Donald Duck, of course, remains one of Walt Disney’s most famous characters. One might have gone with Allan Donald (or even Glenn Donald McGrath), but with Bradman around the others, almost by rule, do not stand a chance. It is also rumoured that Disney, a cricket follower, had conceived Donald Duck in his brain when the legendary batsman had been dismissed for a nought against New York.
4. Peter Webb
Webb had played two Tests and five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) for New Zealand without much success, but was a competent batsman at domestic level. His additional quality to keep wickets will also come handy if anything happens to both wicketkeepers.
5. Robert Gosling
Gosling was not an outstanding batsman, but he still played a handful of matches, first for Cambridge University and later for Essex. His inclusion will probably not bolster the side by much, but one cannot always tell…
6. ‘Daffy’ DeFreitas
It can be debated whether Daffy was more popular than Donald, but they are certainly comfortable: the Warner Bros. character that had appeared in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies has been extremely popular among children. One may classify Phil DeFreitas’s nickname-based inclusion as cheating, but DeFreitas, but with ten ducks in 44 Tests ‘Daffy’ definitely walks into the side.
7. George Duckworth (wicketkeeper)
Energetic and brilliant behind the stumps, Duckworth would pip Wade to the main wicket-keeper’s spot. While Wade is the better batsman, there is no doubt regarding the better wicketkeeper. Little Duckworth’s ‘Owzat!’ used to stay with the spectators long after they returned home.
8. Chris Swan
I was too tempted to include Graeme Swann, but I had already cheated while roping in a Web. Swann, a fast-medium bowler from Queensland with an impressive repertoire of strokes, will be the preferred first-change bowler after the new-ball bowlers need a break.
Drakes is one of the four batsmen to have been ruled timed out, but he will have to do without that skill of his to turn up late. Once on the ground, Drakes can be quite penetrating with the ball, and can share the new ball with DeFreitas.
10. Rajinder Hans
Time for taking a break from English: hans means ‘duck’ in Hindi, which means Rajinder Hans, the Uttar Pradesh stalwart, walks into the side with his wily left-arm spin. Once the ball loses its shine, Bradman will certainly use Hans’ potential to the fullest.
11. Scott Huey
No Louie or Dewey there, but Samuel Scott Johnston Huey, the outstanding Irish left-arm spinner of the 1950s and 1960s has to walk in as the third spinner. He had once helped defeat a strong Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) side by two runs single-handedly with figures of six for 49 and eight for 48. He would become an excellent partner for Hans.
Gardner never made it to the top-level, and neither was she a quality player; but with her stints for Berkshire Women in both 50-over and 20-over formats she should be able to come on first-change on seaming tracks if she plays. One just needs to keep her away from, er, Donald Bradman…
Ferdinand, the evil duck of Babe and Babe 2, has three namesakes in the realm of cricket, and we will stick to the least unsuccessful one. Huddleston was a Hampshire batsman who had played four matches for Hampshire in the 1840s. An average of 14.75 on what can only be classified as non-wickets was quite decent.
Like Huddleston, Diver also played his cricket in the 1840s (mostly for Cambridgeshire, Middlesex, and Nottinghamshire), and finished with an average of 12.23. However, his fast-medium bowling (he could bowl both over-arm and under-arm) was also effective, and he finished with 87 wickets at approximately 19.
Official supporter: Yabba
If Sri Lanka can have their Percy Abeysekera, why can’t our side have Yabba? Regular viewers of Timmy Time will remember Yabba the Duckling as a friend of Timmy the Sheep, the protagonist of the series.
Let us hope the opposition suffers from anatidaephobia.
The team thus reads:
Bill, Wade, Donald (c), Webb, Gosling, Daffy, Swan, Duckworth (wk), Drakes, Hans, Huey.
Daisy, Ferdinand, Ducky.
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