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Elevenses - The 11 XI

Elevenses - The 11 XI
By Dan Liebke • Issue #9 • View online
Selecting cricket elevens is a fine hobby. Selecting an eleven who have close ties to the number 11 is therefore finer still.
So, let’s get cracking:
(Ground rules: Each position in the side must have a unique cricket statistic with a value of 11 to justify selection. This is a Test XI, and any player who still has an active career will not be considered, lest they ruin their 11-centric stats in the future. Also, I’ll try to diversify among as many nations as I can, but, as we’ll see, some 11-happy players won’t always make this possible.)

1. First up, we’ll look at players who’ve played 11 Tests. One would imagine this would put a limit on the quality of the player. Nevertheless, we have Phil Jaques, an Australian opener from 2005-2008 who scored 902 runs from his 11 Tests at 47.47, including three centuries. The standout candidate of those with an 11 Test career. Get Jaques on a plane.
2. For our other opener, we’ll do a bit of sneaky selecting and choose a player who made 11 stumpings in his career, former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum. BMac mostly batted in the middle order in Tests, but he wasn’t alien to opening. And, heck, it even looks like he has an 11 in his surname. He can open and keep.
3. At number three, we’ll work with batters who’ve scored 11 centuries. Lots of choices here, including Nathan Astle, Hashan Tillakaratne and Ravi Shastri. But the late Dean Jones, with not only 11 centuries, but also 11 ducks and 11 not outs, has an irresistible claim to the spot.
4. At number four, it’s time to consider players who’ve made 11 ducks. We could have used this in the opener slot and claimed Justin Langer, Gordon Greenidge or Graeme Smith. Or slotted in Kumar Sangakkara at first drop instead of Dean Jones, who also qualifies under this criteria. But, again, there’s an Australian with irresistible claims. This time, Allan Border, with 11 ducks, 11,174 runs, 11 Player of the Match awards and best Test match bowling figures of 11/96.
5. We can get to our number five in the batting order by looking at players who’ve taken 11 wickets. Many fine candidates in here, but none finer than Clyde Walcott who in his 44 matches, not only took 11 wickets but also completed 11 stumpings. Neat.
6. As we reach the bottom of the specialist batting order, let’s try players with 11 scores of fifty or more. Because if we do, we get to one magnificent name: Douglas Jardine. Not only 11 scores in excess of 50, but a career of 22 matches and 33 innings. Jardine will be our captain, fighting off a myriad of other contenders with the ruthless efficiency we’ve come to expect from him.
7. Let’s find an all-rounder to bat at seven by looking at who has been awarded Player of the Match on 11 occasions. In addition to the previously discussed Allan Border, we also have Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Shaun Pollock, Rahul Dravid and Glenn McGrath. But we especially also have (the original) Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, who scored 11 Player of the Match awards in 88 Tests, with a neatly divisible 8 Player of the Series awards.
8. Time to get serious about this bowling attack then. We’ll choose another quick, one with best match figures that are an 11-fer. Zillions of players qualify for this, including Dale Steyn who once finished a Test with 11/60. As mentioned, we also have Allan Border, who perhaps is not quite as fearsome a presence at the bowling crease. The best figures of Saeed Ajmal are very tempting at 11/111, and if Stuart Broad had the sense to have been eligible for this side, I might not have been able to resist his 11/121 best match figures. Instead, with so many candidates, we’re going to have to appeal to other factors, and Geoff Lawson not only has best figures of 11/134, but he also bowled 11,118 balls and took 11 five wicket hauls. That gets him a spot.
9. You know who also took 11 five wicket hauls? Andy Roberts and Bill O’Reilly. But also Zaheer Khan, who finished with 311 Test wickets and a batting average of 11.95. That’ll do me. Sorry, Bill. Sorry, Andy. 
10. For our number ten slot, we’ll look at players who finished their career with 11 catches. We could take Darren Lehmann here, or Fred ‘The Demon’ Spofforth. But let’s discard any remaining semblance of Australian bias (apologies also to Bruce Edgar). No, instead we’ll have West Indies great Wes Hall, thanks, easily the most experienced player to have taken a mere 11 catches, with 48 Tests.
11. Finally, for the number 11 in our eleven, we’ll have a look at the players who contributed the most in the number 11 slot. Joel Garner is tempting, with his average of 11.00 while batting at 11. So is Darren Gough with his average of 11.11 for an even one hundred runs batting in the position. But the shameful oversight of Bill O’Reilly means the side still needs a spinner. And who better than the man who made the most runs at number 11 of them all, Muttiah Murilatharan? Murali averaged 11.67 overall with the bat and 11.32 at number 11. Could also bowl a bit.
There we have it. That’s the eleven of 11-lovers. As always, let me know what I’ve got wrong.
Behind The Scenes
Another edition done of my Monday First Drafts challenge, in which I take an idea from my big list of cricket ideas and spend a few hours working on a first draft prototype.
Post-Mortem on Last Week’s First Draft
Last week, I did a Tragic Detective mystery. As I said then, I find it impossibly tricky to balance the mystery correctly in a short story. I think I probably made it too hard. Ah well. I’ll try to do better next time.
Prospects for a more polished version: Highly likely. What part of ‘I’ll try to do better next time’ don’t you understand?
This Week’s First Draft
The Idea
I’ve got multiple lists of funny elevens I’d like to explore at some point. But, perhaps predictably, the urge to go meta with an eleven of players with stats of 11 proved hard to resist.
The Mystery of the Missing Mitch Marsh | Revue
Did you enjoy this issue?
Dan Liebke

Every Friday, I go through my big list of cricket ideas, and churn out a first draft of something I've got in there. It won't be polished. It may not be interesting. I make no promises. But I'm going to throw something up and see what works and what (infinitely more likely) does not.

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