Top, from left: D’Arcy Short, Leo O’Brien (courtesy: Labor Daily), Jack O’Connor (England), Norm O’Neill, Basil D’Oliveira, Collie Smith Bottom, from left: Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Jack O’Connor (Australia), Bill O’Reilly (courtesy: Wikimedia Commons), Steven O’Keefe © Getty Images
Top, from left: D’Arcy Short, Leo O’Brien (courtesy: Labor Daily), Jack O’Connor (England), Norm O’Neill, Basil D’Oliveira, Collie Smith
Bottom, from left: Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Jack O’Connor (Australia), Bill O’Reilly (courtesy: Wikimedia Commons), Steven O’Keefe © Getty Images

Things have been a little quiet since we made the hyphenated XI. Infixes are not exactly punctuations, but we had got an XI of them as well.We thought we were done, but when D’Arcy Short made his debut, an apostrophe XI seemed the most obvious thing to do. We only help but wonder today why we didn’t do them same when Steve O’Keefe had showed up. Without much ado, then, here is the XI:

1. D’Arcy Short: Short announced himself in the 2017-18 BBL, and did justice to his potential during his brief international career. His incredible power may not make up for his ordinary First-Class numbers, but as we will find out, this side will have to rely more on bowling than batting to win matches. He also bowls left-arm spin.

2. Leo O’Brien: O’Brien didn’t have an excellent Test career, but one must remember that 2 of his 5 Tests were in the Bodyline series. His First-Class numbers (3,303 runs at 37) are a significant improvement on his Test average of 26. O’Brien got his runs fairly quickly as well, which means our opening pair will not be short on entertainment.

3. Jack O’Connor (England): Two Jack O’Connors have played Test cricket. This one played for Essex almost throughout the between-War era, scoring nearly 30,000 runs (at 35) and taking 557 wickets (at 33) with his mixed bag of spin. He scored hundreds against every single county (barring his own, of course) as well as against both Oxford and Cambridge.

4. Norman O’Neill: O’Neill never lived up to the reputation of being The Next Don Bradman, but 2,779 runs at 46 with 6 hundreds weren’t too bad, either. The average was 50 after 30 Tests, but that when his form dipped. O’Neill will bat at his favourite position of No. 4, where he averages 57. Put a 2,000-run cut-off, and only two Australians have averaged more at that position.He also averaged more than 37 in every country he toured, and was a batsman whose aesthetic appeal was matched by few others.

5. Basil D’Oliveira: Who knows how prolific ‘Dolly’ would have been, had apartheid not robbed him of First-Class cricket till his early thirties? His Test average of 40 matches his First-Class average (he made his debut at 35, though it is believed that it was closer to forty). Add to that his 551 First-Class wickets at 27. Add to that the odds he had to battle. It will be difficult to choose a vice-captain between him and O’Neill.

6. O’Neill Gordon ‘Collie’ Smith: If D’Oliveira was too late to cricket, Collie Smith’s career was cruelly nipped in the bud. He was only 26 when he met with that fateful accident. He will also add to our list of extremely aggressive batsmen — but then, he also averaged 40 in First-Class cricket. His off-breaks will add another dimension to the attack: his 121 wickets came at 31, of which 48 (at 34) were in Test cricket.

7. Kevin O’Brien: The second O’Brien in the side, Kevin is yet to play Test cricket but surely will in near future. Given the handful of ODIs Ireland get to play, it is surprising that Kevin is on the verge of doing the 3,000 run-100 wicket double. But then, whoever had seen that hundred to fell England at Bengaluru in the 2011 World Cup will not be surprised. He also averages 37 with bat and 28 with ball in First-Class cricket, numbers that indicate that he is ready — and numbers that push him ahead of Simon O’Donnell.

8. Niall O’Brien (wicketkeeper): Kevin is not the only O’Brien brother to have felled a Test-playing in a World Cup. Four years before Kevin, elder brother Niall did the same to knock Pakistan out. Less explosive than his brother but no less feisty, Niall averages 35 in First-Class cricket. He will also don the big gloves and will lift the side’s morale in his famous chatterbox mode.

9. Jack O’Connor (Australia): We will do our best to flatten any side, and creating confusion will be one of our tools. How many sides in the world can boast of two Jack O’Connors? This one, who goes by the name John Denis Alphonsus O’Connor, got the ball to move reasonably well off the pitch. It’s a pity he did not play more than 4 Tests — all of them Ashes — for his 13 wickets at 25. His First-Class numbers, including stints for both NSW and South Australia, got him 224 wickets at 23.

10. Bill O’Reilly (captain): Bill O’Reilly plays because he is Bill O’Reilly; because he averaged under 28 in each of his seven Test series; because Don Bradman — despite all differences between the two for numerous reasons, religious or otherwise — thought he was the greatest bowler; because he took 5.3 wickets a Test, at 23; because his 774 First-Class wickets came at 17; and because of numerous other reasons, for which this space is too small.Canny and aggressive, O’Reilly will lead the side.

11. Steven O’Keefe: Not many Malaysia-borns win Tests on Indian soil, but O’Keefe managed exactly that, with 12 for 76 at Pune in 2016-17. It was no fluke, for O’Keefe has been doing consistently well in domestic cricket (how many finger-spinners average under 25 in Australian domestic cricket?). He can also stonewall for hours if needed, an attribute he exhibited in the 2016 Pallekele Test, where he batted 178 balls. Leslie O’Brien ‘Chuck’ Fleetwood-Smithhad slightly superior First-Class numbers, but O’Keefe trumps him by virtue of Test cricket performance.

Sub: Tim O’Brien: Yet another O’Brien? It took me some restraint to leave out Ted a’Beckett, but Tim O’Brien belongs to this side more than anyone else. Decades before Virender Sehwag, O’Brien believed in the philosophy that bowlers existed to be hit, and he did that every time he batted. But then, he must have had an excellent defence as well, for he didn’t use the protective box — and still sired ten children.

The apostrophe XI: D’Arcy Short, Leo O’Brien, Jack O’Connor (England), Norm O’Neill, Basil D’Oliveira, Collie Smith, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien (wk), Jack O’Connor (Australia), Bill O’Reilly (c), Steven O’Keefe, Tim O’Brien (sub).