Top row, from left: Bill Ponsford, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ricky Ponting (c), Graeme Pollock, Kevin Pietersen Bottom row, from left: Eddie Paynter, Matt Prior (wk), Shaun Pollock, Vernon Philander, Peter Pollock, Bobby Peel © Getty Images
Top row, from left: Bill Ponsford, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ricky Ponting (c), Graeme Pollock, Kevin Pietersen
Bottom row, from left: Eddie Paynter, Matt Prior (wk), Shaun Pollock, Vernon Philander, Peter Pollock, Bobby Peel © Getty Images

Alphabetical All-Time XIs are great fun. Composing one from the cricketers with their last names starting with P, Arunabha Sengupta finds a plethora of great batsmen and some of the most fantastic bowlers to have played the game.

The P’s are a gifted lot, with a fascinating bunch of South Africans — even a South African expat — forming the major core.

There are of course the Pollocks, one family good enough for three spots: Graeme the genius southpaw batsman, Peter the fast bowler and Shaun the often underrated all-rounder. There is another fantastic all-rounder as well, who was one of the many unfortunate men of the country to have his career cut short by the isolation, namely Mike Procter.

Besides, there is the South African who played for England and ended up as one of the best-ever batsmen of his adopted country — Kevin Pietersen.

In fact, if we go down the order towards the bowlers, we do come across another strong Protean claimant in Vernon Philander.

Looking at the rest of the world, we find the Australian run-machine Bill Ponsford easily taking up his position at the top of the order. Another Australian who will walk into the side is the modern day great Ricky Ponting. I don’t assume too many questions will be asked about these choices.

Moving our gaze across to another part of the world, we have Eddie Paynter of England with his spectacular average of 59.23 from 20 Tests.

Hence, with Ponsford, Ponting, Graeme Pollock, Pietersen and Paynter, we already have a rather fascinating array of batting greats. However, when we look at a partner for Ponsford, the best specialist opener we come across is Geoff Pullar, whose 1,974 runs for England came at an impressive but less than brilliant 43.86. Hence, I would ask Cheteshwar Pujara to step up and open the innings for this tremendous batting line-up. He boasts an average of 51 now and has had some exposure to starting the innings for India.

Shaun Pollock does take up the position of a champion fast bowler and also the all-rounder. He comfortably ousts the Indian duo of Dattu Phadkar and Irfan Pathan. Leaving out Procter was tougher, but we have to cater to the small-sample factor since there is abundant choice elsewhere.

The bowling, limited to four operators because we have gone with six batsmen, will not suffer from the lack of a fifth bowler. That is because the four bowlers are truly exceptional, with all of them averaging in the low 20s.

Shaun Pollock (421 wickets at 23.11) opens the attack with his father Peter Pollock (116 at 24.18), followed by Philander (161 at 22.39), and the spin department is handled by left-armer Bobby Peel (101 wickets at 16.98). Yes, 16.98, that was Peel’s average, and therefore EAS Prasanna (189 wickets at 30.38) does not get in. Also missing out because of the South African battery of pace bowlers are Len Pascoe (64 wickets at 26.06) and James Pattinson (70 at 26.15).

The wicketkeeping slot is a competition between three rather serious contenders: Jim Parks was a long serving wicketkeeper for England in the 1950s and 1960s, while Adam Parore did yeoman’s work for New Zealand in the 1990s. But I will go with Matt Prior, especially due to his much-improved second wind after 2009 and the additional batting ability that he brings to the team.

The side thus has an almost endless batting line up that goes down to No. 11, both Peter Pollock and Peel were very able batsmen, and the bowling quartet is as strong as they get. It is one of the better teams among the Alphabetical XIs.

Hence the team:

Name R Ave W Ave
Bill Ponsford 2,122 48.22
Cheteshwar Pujara 3,798 51.32
Ricky Ponting (c) 13,378 51.85 5 55.2
Graeme Pollock 2,256 60.97 4 51
Kevin Pietersen 8,181 47.28 10 88.6
Eddie Paynter 1,540 59.23
Matt Prior (wk) 4,099 40.18 243 (ct) 13 (st)
Shaun Pollock 3,781 32.31 421 23.11
Vernon Philander 1,009 24.02 161 22.39
Peter Pollock 607 21.67 116 24.18
Bobby Peel 427 14.72 101 16.98

12th Man: Nip Pellew

Manager: Lionel Palairet