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An (opener-heavy) team of English cricketing knights
Andrew Strauss and Geoffrey Boycott complete an XI to savour.
Andrew Strauss and Geoffrey Boycott have joined the list of English cricket’s sporting knights.
Like the majority of the list, the pair both opened the batting in Test cricket for England.
Here, the PA news agency puts together an opener-heavy team picking from those who are now Sirs.
1. Alastair Cook
Tests: 161; Runs: 12,472; Hundreds: 33; Batting average: 45.35.
In an incredibly competitive field, England’s leading Test run-scorer cannot be overlooked when it comes to opening the batting. Nobody else has passed 8,900 runs for England, let alone come close to matching his 12,472, and he was man of the series in his side’s historic series victories in India and Australia. The Essex left-hander may not have been the most stylish or fluent batsman but there is no arguing with the results.
2. Jack Hobbs
Tests: 61; Runs 5,410; Hundreds: 15; Batting average: 56.94.
Partnering England’s most prolific opener is first-class crickets most prolific batsman. Hobbs retired after a career that spanned almost 30 years with 61,760 runs and 199 centuries – records which still stand today and are unlikely to be surpassed. He scored over 5,000 runs in the Test arena and played in 100 fewer than Cook. Hobbs, who is regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all-time, could also bowl and was lauded for his fielding.
3. Geoffrey Boycott
Tests: 108; Runs 8,114; Hundreds: 22; Batting average: 47.72.
If any bowler can remove one of the opening duo, they will then come up against the stubbornness of Boycott. He was once dropped by England for slow scoring after making a career-best 246 not out against India on his home ground at Leeds in 1967, but his determination to bat for as long as possible has to be admired. England could certainly have done with a player of his ilk at Old Trafford this summer. He opened the batting for England and Yorkshire throughout the 1960s, 1970s and into the early 1980s, but he will have to settle for coming in at number three in this team.
4. Len Hutton
Tests: 79; Runs: 6,971; Hundreds: 19; Batting average: 56.67.
Another Yorkshireman who can count himself very unlucky not to be opening. A more circumspect batsman than Hobbs, former England captain Hutton’s international career spanned 18 years and his 364 against Australia in 1938 stood as the highest individual score in Tests for 20 years and remains an England record.
5. Andrew Strauss (c)
Tests: 100; Runs: 7,037; Hundreds: 21; Batting average: 40.91
Another fine opener but he can drop down the order to concentrate on captaincy. Out of this list, he has the joint most wins as captain (24) but his came in nine fewer Tests than Cook so he gets the honour of leading the team. He led England to an Ashes win Down Under for the first time since 1986-87 and to the top of the Test rankings.
6. Colin Cowdrey (wk)
Tests: 114; Runs: 7,624; Hundreds: 22; Batting average: 44.06.
Only Cook and Kevin Pietersen have scored more Test centuries for England. Cowdrey was the first cricketer to reach 100 Test matches and he celebrated the occasion with a ton against Australia at Birmingham in 1968. The Kent batsman’s international career saw him become the most prolific Test run-scorer but here he has to settle for coming in at number six. This team lacks a wicketkeeper but since he played the position at school and took 120 catches for his country, he can don the gloves.
7. Pelham Warner
Tests: 15; Runs: 622; Hundreds: 1; Batting average: 23.92.
Known affectionately as Plum or the ‘Grand Old Man’ of English cricket, the Trinidad-born Warner captained England in 10 of his 15 Tests, regaining the Ashes in 1903-04, while he is one of only two players – alongside Hobbs – to earn the coveted honour of Wisden Cricketer of the Year twice. Another opener who scored over 29,000 first-class runs, his low average sees him drop right down this side’s batting order.
8. Ian Botham
Tests: 102; Runs: 5,200; Hundreds: 14; Batting average: 33.54; Wickets: 383; Bowling average: 28.4.
Arguably England’s greatest all-rounder would usually be coming in higher up the order but this team’s middle order starts all the way down at number eight. But his bowling prowess means he will take new-ball duties. His contributions almost single-handedly decided the outcome of the 1981 Ashes and when he retired from playing he held the record for the leading Test wicket-taker of all-time. Botham’s charity work, in which he raised millions of pounds for leukaemia research, saw him become the first English cricketer to be knighted in this century.
9. Gubby Allen
Tests: 25; Runs: 750; Hundreds: 1; Batting average: 24.19; Wickets: 81; Bowling average: 29.37.
Another all-rounder who would ideally be coming in higher up the order. Allen refused to employ the inflammatory leg-theory tactics favoured by Douglas Jardine during the ‘Bodyline’ Ashes series in 1932-33 but his occasionally devastating fast bowling still reaped 21 wickets. He went on to skipper England in 11 Tests while his first-class career with Middlesex spanned four decades.
10. Henry Leveson-Gower
Tests: 3; Runs: 95; Hundreds: 0; Batting average: 23.75.
Known as ‘Shrimp’, Leveson-Gower was knighted in the same year as former Surrey and England team-mate Hobbs. However, Leveson-Gower, who captained England in all three Tests he played in South Africa in 1910, received the honour in recognition of being a legislator and a long-serving England Test selector. He did not bowl in his brief England career but with 46 first-class wickets at 29.95 – and three five-wicket hauls – he will be the team’s spinner.
11. Alec Bedser
Tests: 51; Wickets: 236; Bowling average: 24.89.
Opening the bowling is the one-time holder of the world record for Test wickets. Bedser is widely regarded as one of the best fast bowlers in England’s history during an international career that started in 1946 and ended in 1955. He featured regularly alongside his twin Eric for Surrey and finished with nearly 2,000 first-class wickets.
12th man. Francis Lacey
First-class statistics: Matches: 50; Runs scored: 2,589; Wickets: 52.
The former Hampshire captain did not play for England but became the first person to be knighted for services to any sport in 1926 upon retiring from his role as secretary of the Marylebone Cricket Club, a position he held for 28 years.