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"Listers" eh, Tone?

Interesting that the biggest story in music yesterday was about a list and the biggest in cricket was about a list. Trainspotters, one and all.

I'm not given to quoting Nick Cave, but I think he summed this kind of thing up quite well (he was talking about music awards shows, but they're one and the same with these lists):

"I treat her with the respect I feel she deserves — in this case this means not subjecting her to the indignities of judgement and competition. My muse is not a horse and I am in no horse race and if indeed she was, still I would not harness her to this tumbrel — this bloody cart of severed heads and glittering prizes."

Sport obviously is a race/competition, but comparing players from different eras is such a bogus premise; Wisden are lowering themselves to the level of the NME. I think they should just stick to the "5 cricketers of the year", which at least always provides some champagne unintentional comedy.


were all those selected named as a cricketer of the year by Wisden?
also Tony please start a blog on CA and the diatribe of bullshit that came out of that meeting yesterday. Does Jolimont have barricades, because they need storming so we can get the game back that we love, away from these lunatics who think it is all about the money


To be balanced, of the "5 Pillars of our Strategy" they mentioned on their Powerpoint presentation at the AGM, the first was "Put fans first". That was followed by "Produce the best teams, players and officials in the world." Would have thought the latter would take care of the former, but that's just me.

Tony Tea

I'll give a Wisden 150th anniversary list a pass ahead of an NME "GREATEST songs of the last three weeks" list.

At least Wizz appears to be basing its XI on the greatness of players in their respective eras.

But I would be tempted to invoke my "last five years" exclusion rule and exclude Tendulkar just to piss off India's burgeoning middle class internet warriors.


I think one of our learned twitter friends had a good spin on this kind of thing; it's great fun for amateurs (and bloggers) and as a pub debate, but should serious publications be wasting their time on this kind of stuff? It just ends up looking like attention-seeking and click-baiting. Music mag mentality.

P.S. I realise the irony of this given that nearly everything I write appears in the format of a list, but that's more of a style guide thing than a arbitrary 'ranking' process. So much sport and pop cultural writing is reduced to ranking things; I generally ignore the lists to be honest.

With the Joy of Six stuff, an alarming amount of people see it as offering a definitive "best six" on a topic and half the comments are along the lines of "how could [insert commenters pet example here] not make the top six?"

Tony Tea

There needs to be a disclaimer across the top of all pop culture mastheads: "Best is not favourite."

My least favourite "list" is when knuckleheads ring up finey on Tuesday nights and list players' numbers at which point Finey's offsider explodes "THAT'S A RIPPER!" Mindnumbingly awful.

Big Ramifications

W. G. Farking Grace is the Kerry Saxby of cricket. He's the turd that just won't flush when these sorts of lists appear. He was also a cheat and a bad sport. Joke of a selection.

Gilly's century of 57 balls vs. England at the WACA -- I saw it live on the telly and it was pretty bloody spesh. Buddies texting me from over East asking "are you watching this?!!" Brutal game-changer indeed.

Jacques Kallis takes less innings on average to get a ton than Slashin' Shachin, and his average is significantly better. And he's taken almost 300 Test wickets. Loafers at 10 paces.

Big Ramifications

Slashin' Shachin.

Erm. Say it in a Dave Allen drunk voice.


Kallis is an exception to the "recency" rule; still somehow pretty underrated in the "best of" context for an absolute star. Batting average 2 under Sobers, bowling average 2 runs better. Add in his superior bowling strike rate and it's a legitimate debate if you're into that kind of thing.

Arise, Sir Jacques. Definitely the best player with hair plugs to ever set foot on a cricket ground.

Big Ramifications

....it's a legitimate debate if you're into that kind of thing.

Thanks for letting me down easy, Rusty! I'm reading all the comments thinking "Christ, do I really want to say anything now?"

Tony Tea

Interesting that Knoxy, generally someone I esteem up there with Gideon, should dismiss Kallis with an offhanded: "The only people who elevate Kallis above Sobers as an all-rounder seem to be those who never saw both of them." Even committing flagrant recency, Kallis is right up there with the best of them.

Tony Tea

Biggy baby, WG's figures might not stack up with modern day plunderers, but he was miles above his peers.

Big Ramifications

Kerry Saxby's race times might not stack up with modern day striders, but she was miles above her peers. Flailing unbuttoned cardigans.

Tony Tea

Yes, but next-to no women were walking when KS was dominating. Cricket during WG's time was very popular.


"Thanks for letting me down easy, Rusty! I'm reading all the comments thinking "Christ, do I really want to say anything now?""

Just to clarify, wasn't in relation to your Kallis comment, Big Ram. Just 'best XI' debates in general.

Big Ramifications

"Just to clarify, wasn't in relation to your Kallis comment, Big Ram. Just 'best XI' debates in general."

But my comment was part of a 'best XI' debate, so, um, that's why I assumed.

It's all about meee!

Big Ramifications

Big Tone, heaps of girls were race walking before Kerry came along. It was part of the STABLE of events for girls from Little Athletics all the way up to National Championships. Absolutely, there would be some drop out before women's walking became an Olympic sport, but relative to senior athletics in general it was still popular during her time, and Kerry was the dog's balls.

Maybe Kerry belongs in the Pantheon? Heh!

It's very intimidating, debating you on matters cricket, Tony. From my end I'm gonna stop it right there because I yam becoming sked. I look forward to your next comment with trepidation.

Oscar Wilde

"Kerry was the dog's balls."

Superb back-hander! Perfection right there. Didn't she have a head on her or what.

Will The Bard

"Kerry was the dog's balls."

Pantheon. Tick.


Lists are great, they give great insight into the inherent biases of their compilers.

But best-ever lists are pointless exercises, only slightly superior to those based on nonsense criteria. Who cares which of a pair of towering greats you choose to honour? A list is only interesting if it has a strict and narrow criteria that brings up names/events you've not previously thought of; and selecting an XI is only interesting if it forces you to shuffle resources, or pick someone of limited ability.

Anyway... Grace always benefits from his impeccable f/c record, but his best years were behind him when he played tests. Except for Hobbs, Bradman and Sobers, the rest of the selections are up for grabs. And I say Sobers only because he is ought to be a shoe-in for his batting. If you are looking for an out-and-out all-rounder Imran is the clear and under-rated favourite. A 23 average with the ball and 38 with the bat is probably more valuable than 34 and 58; and his late career stats were ridiculous (the last 53 tests: 19 and 52!). Bowling is seen as a secondary all-round skill. Typical batsman's bias.

That highlights the other problem with career stats. The prodigy invariably has a half decade of crap before they hit their mid-20s (or in Tendulkar's case, early 20s), and a lot exhibit long declines.

Big Ramifications

"Kerry was the dog's balls."

I'd like to say sorry to Kerry on behalf of the people of Australia.

Rudd The Dud



Incidentally, the recency test should just about apply to anyone who played after you were born. As an exercise, consider: if you split the history of test cricket in two it currently divides evenly at the second world war. Career lengths have not really changed over that period, so there are roughly as many players for each nation from then as now.

All things being equal (which they aren't as the population is bigger now, but...), we ought to be able to pick two Australian sides, one modern, one ancient, that were broadly competitive with one another. As soon as you sit down though, you realise the list of modern list is fresh and easy to measure, and the ancient nearly forgotten.

FWIW though:
Ancient: Ponsford, Trumper, Bradman, McCabe, Armstrong, Macartney, Noble, Blackham, Turner, Spofforth, Grimmett

A long tail off-set by three all-round options and Bradman. But tempted to have Woodfull in the side, Armstrong to captain in both cases.

Modern: Lawry, Morris, Ponting, Chappell.G, Border, Gilchrist, Miller, Davidson, Warne, Lillee, McGrath

Somewhat reluctantly leaving out S.Waugh for an extra bowling all-rounder, and because I can't leave out any of the four quicks in good conscience. On anything that spins Benaud for somebody too, and as captain, otherwise, Border, maybe, because neither Warne nor Miller got the gig in real life.

Tony Tea

W.G. Junior: "Listing the fields of dreams."

Professor Rosseforp

"Alan Knott was as close to a perfect wicketkeeper as can be imagined. He played at the same time as Rod Marsh, and again, those who were on the field with both tend to rate Knott marginally superior, with the added repertoire of having proven himself keeping to spin." -- A classic re-writing of history that Knox must be aware of. Many contemporaries rated Bob Taylor as a better keeper than Knott, but less handy with the bat. Taylor got his test turn late in his career, and was a neat and disciplined keeper, and at least Knott's equal in the keeping department. Knott was good, but I would not rate him better than Marsh. Although bulky and clumsy-looking, Marsh was more effective with gloves AND with bat. Knott's keeping against spin was typically against English off-spinners and left-armers. All Australian and South African keepers have had to keep against the less predictable leg-spinners, with a greater turn -- although Knott had to keep against seamers more than Marsh. Knott did not have to keep against as many express bowlers as Marsh either. Probably Snow was the fastest he kept to, but Marsh had Lillee, Thomson, and occasionally Hogg who were in the express category -- Thomson being a nightmare that Knott had no equivalent problem.
All this ignores Godfrey Evans. Contemporaries rated him better than Grout/Knott/Marsh, on keeping ability -- and this was the sole criterion used in the Wisden selection. Likewise, Don Tallon had a shorter career in terms of test matches, but his rate was similar to Knott's, and those who saw him and subsequent Australian keepers up to Marsh and Gilchrist would have picked him.


I don't think there's a particularly strong argument for including Kallis, simply from the perspective of him not really being a match-winner for much of his career. He's obviously a special player with amazing statistics, but his batting has been too often far too slow for mine. He was the lynch-pin of a dour South African team in the early and mid-noughties that had amazing talent, but would too often lose when they should have drawn and drawn when they should have won. It's only relatively recently that he has batted more positively and become a genuine match-winner.

Indidentally, and no doubt controversially to any number of Hush Puppy-d cardigan wearers, that's one of the reasons why I rate Ponting higher than Tendulkar. I have no statistics to really back this up, but I'm convinced that Ponting won more matches off his own bat than Tendulkar ever did.

Tony Tea

You took the words right out of my keyboard vis-a-vis Tendulkar. But I also have doubts about your Ricky claims.

Craig Dwyer

My fading memory seems to present a fact that Alan Knott toured the West Indis and did not concede a bye in the entire tour, or perhaps the test series. Cant say for sure, but it sticks in my mind. Having said that, Gilly is the first player picked in any of these lists. If its about game changers and winning games. Sachin, Kallis, not winners of games in my book, which I havent written yet.

Professor Lombardo

"Kerry was the dog's balls."



Is anyone else watching this shit in India?

Playstation cricket with the 'game type' set to 'arcade mode'.

Only a country of male beta faggots like in India could enjoy this type of cricket.

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