Some Great Number 11’s: In Honour of Peter George

13 10 2010

With Peter George making his debut in the India versus Australia second test at Bangalore, yet another rabbit – a number 11 extraordinaire – has been added to the list of distinguished names in this category.

In this modern era of cricket where all cricketers, regardless of their role in the team, are expected to be able to hold a bat, Peter George is a refreshing return to completely hopeless and entirely hapless number eleven batsmen. Even previously inept batsman such as Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar have worked at their game enough to be able to defy a fired up Australian attack for the best part of 15 overs to get a draw and therefore escape ‘rabbit’ status. With this in mind we thought we’d have a look back at some of the greatest number elevens over the last few years:

Devon Malcolm, England (40 tests, 236 runs, 29 highest, 6.05 average)

Surely one of the all time greats in this category. A batsman whose only plan was the number elevens archetypal ‘batting by numbers’ – ball one and two block, ball three hit as far as you can etc – he provided much amusement for all cricket fans around the world. Memorable amongst his many low scoring innings was a brilliant knock of 29 against the Australians during which he put Shane Warne over cow corner twice in two balls.

Chris Martin, New Zealand (56, 89, 12*, 2.28)

One of the few cricketers in history to have taken more wickets than have scored runs, Chris Martin is a rabbit of the highest order. With 28 ducks in only 56 test matches and one of the lowest averages of players to have played more than ten test matches, Martin fully deserves his place on this list.

Alan Mullaly, England (19, 127, 24*, 5.50)

Another tail ender from the Devon Malcolm school of batting, Mullaly was a number eleven from another era. During a time when the tail of the English batting line up began at number 8, Mullaly and Tuffnell were the finest exponents of this mediocrity. The Hampshire seamer was a frustrating character though as he would occasionally play a shot that denoted a certain ability with the bat and you felt if he worked at things perhaps he would prove a reasonable bat. Sadly however it wasn’t to be and he makes this list with ease!

Pommie Mbangwa, Zimbabwe (15, 34, 8, 2.00)

On this list for the amazingly tiny nature of his average. We can’t remember seeing him bat but surely he has to be on here for that figure alone…

Glenn McGrath, Australia (124, 641, 61, 7.36)

The only rabbit on this list to have scored a test match half century and have a bat named after him in his honour – McGrath was a genuine number eleven. Always had pretensions to be a proper batsman and worked hard on it the length of his career, he had actually improved dramatically by his last test. Notable performances include keeping a fired up Steve Harmison out at Old Trafford in 2005 to draw the game and of course that remarkable partnership with Jason Gillespie where both scored half centuries.

Phil Tuffnell, England (42, 153, 22*, 5.10)

A player who you always felt was genuinely terrified of bowling quicker than medium pace, the ‘Cat’ could more often be found standing on the square leg umpires toes rather than getting in line and playing the ball. Keen to try and flay the ball over the slips (intentionally or not) he never lasted long and only just misses out on the more wickets to runs club.

This is a short and clearly incomplete list missing as it does any representatives from the sub continent. Therefore if you can think of any other great number elevens of the recent past please comment and let me know as we are sure there are one or two worth entries missing!



One response

13 10 2010

I calculated a measure of great ineptitude once. The most obvious sub-continental name is Chandrasekhar. Probably add Kaneria too. Murali wasn’t completely inept, but he had one aim when he batted and it wasn’t defence.

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