My good mate Guinness is getting sick of these fantasy XI’s people keep putting together in the lead up to the Ashes. If it’s not an Ashes XI of bowlers getting printed in Fairfax newspapers it’s an XI of right hand batsmen who bowled left arm, who wore a helmet without a grill, played for or against NSW, once top scored in a Shield match at the Gabba and had an uncle named Trevor. Enough is enough!
I feel my mate’s pain there is nothing worse than a fantasy XI than a fantasy scorecard of how that fantasy XI would hypothetically perform against another hypothetical XI in a hypothetical fantasy Test match.
So I have produced the most obscure XI I could think of – The Ashes Tour Back Up Keepers XI
1. Steven Davies
Davies came as Matt Prior’s back up on the 2010/11 tour. As all good back up keepers should he saw no game time in the Test series. He was however first choice one day keeper for the 50 over segment of the tour which backed onto the World Cup. Davies played the first one dayer in Australia before Prior replaced him for the rest of the tour (save for a cameo duck in Perth) and the World Cup.
2. James Foster
Alec Stewart’s back up on the 2002/03 tour. Stewart missed the Boxing Day test through injury and Foster played the last of his 7 tests at the MCG at the tender age of 22.
3. Phil Hughes
It’s not clear why Phil Hughes is in the current Ashes squad: Is he the back up/3rd opener? Is he the back up No.3? No after he kept to Matthew Wade’s over in Hobart last year it is clear that he is on this tour as the 3rd keeper – the back up to the back up if you like.
4. Graeme Manou
A low profile selection for the 2009 tour who received an unlikely Test call up for the 2nd Test at Edgbaston when Brad Haddin broke his finger in the warm-up 10 minutes before play began. It was his only Test cap.
5. Chris Hartley
The 2009 tour grew to 3 keepers when Haddin and Manou were not available for the tour match at Cantebury, Kent (the ground with a tree on it) and so Queensland keeper Chris Hartley was called up from league cricket in England to stand in. Despite 8 Shield tons to his name (to Tim Paine’s 1 for comparison) this is the closest he has come to international honours.
6. Tim Paine
And then there were 4. TD Paine was the 4th keeper called upon in the 2009 tour – for the marathon 7 game ODI series post the Tests so Haddin could get his broken finger fixed. Paine opened the batting and even scored a one day century.
7. Darren Berry
Probably the best gloveman in the squad. He got his opportunity as a back up after Adam Gilchrist (who was backing up Ian Healy) injured his knee on the 1997 tour. Chuck played 4 tour matches and got a baggy green of sorts for his troubles.
8. Wade Secombe
The Queensland keeper made it onto the 2001 tour as back up to Adam Gilchrist and played 4 first class games on tour but as all good back ups should, he didn’t get near an international match. I consulted Steve Waugh’s 2001 Ashes Dairy to discover more. His profile offered a nickname of Chuck (what is it with keepers called Chuck?) and “Can match it with Ian Healy in the appealing stakes” Oh well that was more information than Ashley Noffke: “No one knows him”
9. Matthew Wade
Booted to back up by the recall of Brad Haddin as Vice Captan of the test team for this year’s tour. Will open the bowling for this line up after he showed good hussle through the crease and a disposition to bowl a heavy ball in his one over in a test match in Hobart last year.
10. Tim Zheorer
Made it onto 2 tours (1989 & 1993) as back up to Ian Healy. As all good back-ups should, he did not play a test however he did top the first class bowling averages on the 1993 tour with his leg spin – yes, he even outdid Shane Warne. For this reason he is the team’s spinner.
11. Warren Hegg
A throwback to when you picked you best gloveman no matter where he could bat I guess. Hegg played the 4th & 5th tests on the 1998/99 Ashes tour after Alec Stewart decided to ditch the gloves and focus on his batting for the final two tests. These were Hegg’s only 2 international matches and he averaged 7.5 with the bat in 4 innings. Did I mention the Ashes had already been retained by Australia at that stage?
Coach: Alec Stewart. He toured Australia 4 times: 1990/91, 1994/95, 1998/99 & 2002/03 yet not once did he keep wicket at the MCG but he did keep at each of the other Test venues in Australia.
90/91 – Jack Russel kept while Stewart batted at 6. Then Russel was dropped for Adelaide & Perth and Stewart kept.
94/95 – Steve Rhodes (who?) kept in all 5 Tests. Stewart played as a batsman.
98/99 – Warren Hegg got the gloves in Melbourne & Sydney and Stewart played as a batsmen
02/03 – Stewart missed the Boxing Day test through injury.
Remarkable or just too much time spent digging up useless information?
Now to put together that phantom race call of Pharlap v Black Caviar v Seabiscuit v Might & Power v More Joyous v Tom Waterhouse v John Singleton. The smart money is on Tom Waterhouse.
Then I’m on to making a team of AFL footballers dudded by the Match Review Panel…..