Test batsmen through the ages

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IF THE Test gets a little slow at times, GEOFF POULTER can amuse himself by dreaming up English doubles:

WATCHING little Jamie Vince taking guard at the Gabba, looking for all the world like a reincarnation of Claude Rains’s version of King John, sparked an idea: An England team of players who resemble, if only slightly, some famous figures from English royalty, military, politics, literature, entertainment, folklore.

A chance to get back to a more zany, quirky and irreverent approach after taking things a little too seriously. Yes, a team for the ages.

New boy Vince, with his dark wispish beard and facial hair, looked a dead ringer for the evil King John of Magna Carta and Robin Hood fame. Well, it’s in the eye of the beholder.

To open with him you would have the burly, mountain of a man Colin Milburn. Surely the largest England Test cricketer since WW2. His match is naturally the rotund Friar Tuck.

At Number Three is the dashing, debonair “Lord” Ted Dexter. His double is Sherlock Holmes, or, at least, the Basil Rathbone version of the uncanny investigator. Batting at four is current skipper Joe Root. His match is Lord Horatio Nelson. Nelson was also “thinnish” with those innocent, boyish looks.

Next in the order is former captain Michael Vaughan and his lookalike is the Monty Python legend “Know what I mean” Eric Idle. At Number Six is another former Test captain Mike Gatting. These days Gatt seems to be looking even more like the bearded, expansive and well-fed Henry VIII than ever.

The all-rounder is Andrew Flintoff, a big, strong, strapping lad who could comfortably play Little John, another famous Robin Hood character. Wicket-keeper Alan Knott follows in the batting order and his double is funny man Dudley Moore, the more sedate member of the dynamic duo he formed with Peter Cook.

Dudley could easily stand in for Alan Knott (below) Pic Ron Galella/WireImage
Dudley could easily stand in for Alan Knott (below) Pic Ron Galella/WireImage


Number Nine is legendary fast bowler http://gty.im/3274369 whose black shock of hair and round friendly face has him resembling classic comedian Tony Hancock who died while visiting Australia in the 1960s. Next comes Stuart Broad who appears witty, wicked and clever and therefore not unlike his double, brilliant playwright but tragic figure Oscar Wilde.

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Comedian Tony Hancock (below) is a close match to Fred Trueman (above) 

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Last in the order is the lanky Bob Willis and his likeness is to the imposing Duke of Wellington, the hero of Waterloo and conqueror of Napoleon. For 12th man you can toss up between Derek Randall (Artful Dodger) and M.J.K. (Mike) Smith (former British PM John Major).

So, the final line-up is: J. Vince, C Milburn, T. Dexter, J Root, M Vaughan, M Gatting, A Flintoff, A Knott, F Trueman, S Broad, B Willis. 12th men: D Randall, M. J. K Smith.


Or, much more interestingly, it should read: King John, Friar Tuck, Sherlock Holmes, Lord Nelson, Eric Idle, Henry VIII, Little John, Dudley Moore, Tony Hancock, Oscar Wilde, the Duke of Wellington. 12th men: Artful Dodger, John Major.


Author: Geoff Poulter

GEOFF POULTER, 69, has spent 51 years in sports media. He was the last Melbourne Herald chief football writer. CV: Sports oracle, author, historian, impersonator, raconteur, poet, quiz whiz, philosopher, song-writer, intellectual scholar – and still employable!



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