The 606v2 Cricket Hall of Fame - Part 3

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Post by Hoggy_Bear on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 12:23 am

Well obviously, while Headley's achievements statistically outweighed those of Constantine, I do think that Constantine, from what I have read, had a massive impact, especially in England. His whole philosophy was to entertain because, by playing entertaining cricket, the WIndies were more likely to draw crowds and guarantee that they would be invited back. Again, according to Swanton "he indeed personified West Indian cricket from the first faltering entry in the Test arena in 1928 until the post-war emergence of the trinity of Worrell, Weekes and Walcott."

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 1:34 am

I love the debate.
Feel quite strongly about Ames and am sure I'll feel equally strongly about Dravid.

Arlott is the greatest cricket broadcaster of my time, feel his writings are inconsistent, possibly influenced by the services of Alexis Lichine and Louis Jadot. Probably going to have to be convinced the playing "wing" of the Hall is the place for him, though would doubtless be first in the press wing of the Hall (much coveted in Baseball's Cooperstown shrine).

Constantine is always such a lyrical figure of the game, a bit like Ranji, and with an equally great name - the Victor Trumper of their respective nations. But it's likely that a dispassionate review of his statistical on-field performance will place him some way behind Woolley for instance, cavalier being good for the goose but not for the gander. Research to follow.

And then, most intriguing perhaps of all the players we've considered, Basil D'Oliviera.
We've talked at length about cricketers whose careers have been shortened for one reason or another (and hopefully verily, Verity, I will also say unto you), those like Richards and Pollock, Hammond and Headley, etc, etc who have made their mark and then lost time to war or politics. But we haven't had to assess anyone whose best years we may not even know much about, whose early pre-first class years might very well exceed anything achieved in the first class game.
That is the conundrum with Dolly. No books on him in Vermont so much on-line research in my future. A very possible Yes from me, but research will be the key.

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Post by dummy_half on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 9:35 am

Kwini
The Beeb showed an excellent documentary on Dolly about 3 years ago, with it being repeated last year following his death - can't remember the title and obviously don't know if it's available in the US (a copy can probably be found on the web somewhere). He certainly had a fascinating story.

I'm not certain that he'd have been HoF level from a purely playing perspective - while he was the stand-out player in the level of cricket he was allowed to play in South Africa, it is difficult to assess what that level was. His other playing perfromances (English club, county and Test cricket) suggest he was a good to very good player - Test average of 40 with the bat and 39.5 with the ball (taking just better than 1 wicket per match, so a good occasional bowler). However of course the statistics of his career only tell a small fraction of the story.

Just to complicate matters, there seems to be significant disagreement over his date of birth - Wikipedia states 1931, however he initially lied to the England selectors and said he was born in 1935, and is reported by his autobiog ghost writer as having admitted to being born in 1928 - assuming the last (earliest) date is correct, he came over to England at 31, only began his first class career at 35 and Test career at 37 or 38. His Test career finished with him aged 44 and his FC career in 1980 with him perhaps 52 years old. As such, the statistics are of a player who missed most of his prime years through an accident of birth.

Of course, the main issue with d'Oliveira was the politics of the 1968 tour to South Africa, and how this brought to international attention the absurdity of the Apartheid regime of the time. Dolly came out of this period with immense credit for being such a true gentleman. For this, and for the respect in which he is now held in both England and South Africa, I think he is a very worthy candidate for our HoF.

Of the others, Ames appears to have had an impressive career, although I understand he was sometimes not considered the finest gloveman - need to look more at him, but seems a strong candidate.

Constantine - the question is whether he was sufficiently the trailblazer for black West Indian cricket for his moderate playing record to be offset. One that needs more consideration.

Arlott - A very interesting suggestion, reverred as a broadcaster, and inextricably linked with the D'Oliveira story. How do you judge the merits of a non-player for the Hof? For me though, ths HoF should be about someone's contribution to the game, in which case the arguments in favour of Arlott are overwhelming. Also opens the way to the discussion of Jonners and of a few umpires.

Dravid - Is much discussion needed? A truly great player, and by most accounts a fine person who will hopefully remain heavily involved in the game either as a coach or within the cricketing authorities - one of the very few sub-continental players of recent years who was more attuned to Test cricket than ODIs. Opportune timing of his retirement allows his definite inclusion.

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Post by alfie on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 1:49 pm

As long as we are permitted to elect people immediately after retirement , I think Dravid is a certain YES

Need more time to consider the others.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 1:54 pm

Thanks dummy_half,
My understanding was that D'Oliviera had rewritten the record books by the time he was "discovered" by Arlott et al. Not difficult to understand given his immediate impact in County Cricket and then the Test team.

Still not sure about the claims for Arlott and other peripheral (that's not meant to sound disparaging) figures, though apparently the precedent has been set somewhat with Benaud.

Back to my drawing board.

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Post by alfie on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 2:07 pm

think Benaud was a sound call on record and captaincy anyway Kwini...

Arlott is a different category altogether... Cardus , anyone?

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Post by dummy_half on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 2:21 pm

Kwini
The difference was that Benaud was a high quality player and a hugely successful captain at Test level before going on to become the best commentator in the world over the last decade or so (basically since Brian Johnson retired) - as such, although his inclusion relies in part on the peripheral parts of his career, his playing record would have put him up for consideration.

Arlott had one expericence of playing first class cricket, when as a member of Hampshire he was drafted in as an emergency 12th man in an away county match - other than for the oddity of the experience (he only got on the pitch because Hampshire's captain was delayed arriving at the ground because of a puncture), I don't think it would quality him as a playing HoF-er.

Obviously, the discussion then becomes about whether the HoF should be inclusive of those who have undeniably contributed to the game by means other than as players, or exclusively for those who starred on the pitch (with the proviso that some HoF members have had their inclusion or exclusion judged for off-pitch reasons). I'm for it being inclusive, which would definitely mean a yes for Arlott.

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Post by guildfordbat on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 3:27 pm

Back to the beginning

''Remember, this Hall doesn't have to only include players but can include managers, figureheads or anyone else that we feel has had a significant impact upon the sport to deem them worthy of a place.'' - Fists of Fury in the opening post of this thread, 2 November 2011.

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Post by Fists of Fury on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 3:57 pm

Spot on, Guildford.

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Post by ShahenshahG on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 4:08 pm

All yes for me.

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Post by Corporalhumblebucket on Wed 28 Mar 2012, 9:28 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:
Constantine is always such a lyrical figure of the game, a bit like Ranji, and with an equally great name - the Victor Trumper of their respective nations. But it's likely that a dispassionate review of his statistical on-field performance will place him some way behind Woolley for instance, cavalier being good for the goose but not for the gander. Research to follow.

To be honest, with Constantine, I intend largely to discount his test / first class playing record. Woolley was the outstanding entertainer who did not know the meaning of the word defence, who scored second highest number of first class runs, third highest number of first class centuries, most ever number of catches etc but that was not enough to get him anywhere near voted into HoF. Constantine's playing record pales in comparison. I do think Constantine IS worth a place in a list of important figures in social history and I see for example that there is a website that lists him in 100 great black Britons*. But I will reserve judgement on whether he should be on our list.

I am currently inclined to vote YES for Arlott. I think we should be very sparing indeed in entry for essentially non players. But if we were voting to allow just one person from outside the ranks of players for me it would be Arlott.

* Admittedly the calibre of that list is distinctly patchy, ranging from the outstanding to the slightly dodgy!

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Post by Mike Selig on Thu 29 Mar 2012, 12:07 am

Good to see the debate starting up again, and as per usual some fantastic points being made.

Given the original purpose seems to have been to include non-players who had an extraordinary impact on the game, it seems Arlott must be a shoe-in. I speak purely from reputation, I am unfortunately far too young to have ever listened to him myself, but he enjoyrs legendary status even today.

The rest are a bit more complicated:

I find it hard to judge Dravid's impact on the game quite such a short time after his retirement. From a "services rendered" perspective it is surely too early to judge him yet, as he is very much still involved in the running of the game and hopefully just at the start of his career as an administrator. As a player Dravid was very very good, probably great, but falls just short of that "unquestioned all-time great" status which I require of a HoF candidate to be admitted purely based on his record (Dravid after all is at best the 5th best batsman of his generation).

I also have to express a slight concern that we are sad to see such a great ambassador of the game retire, and maybe aren't judging him quite as objectively as we should. But then judgements are never objective, and Dravid can't be blamed for the genuine affection and regard in which he is held.

Looking at the "little extra" which could tilt the balance in Dravid's favour, there is his catching record, his status as one of the game's gentlemen and of course his fantastic partnership with Laxman which ended the great Australia side's winning streak when it looked certain to extend.

All in all, I expect Dravid to get in comfortably, and on balance probably rightly so, but I did also feel we were perhaps to quick to all say "YES" and some of the above points needed to be raised.

Regarding Les Ames, again I'm struggling somewhat. Clearly he had limitted impact on the way the game was perceived because it was a long time afterwards that picking the batting keeper was no longer being questioned (although there were of course instances particularly in England with Stewart and Russel, and to a lesser extent Taylor and Knott). What remains then is a very good record, but one which surely falls a fair bit short of "all-time great". I'm going to need a fair bit of convincing on this one.

Constantine and D'Ollivera are obviously being considered for their roles off the pitch. More research is required by me here, as although the skeletal facts are known, I don't begin to imagine I know nearly enough to make a judgement as yet.

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Post by Hoggy_Bear on Thu 29 Mar 2012, 12:22 am

Corporal
While I'd agree that Constantine's playing career doesn't measure up stats wise in comparison to Woolley, one caveat I would add to that is, unlike Woolley, Constantine was almost universally reagrded as being the greatest at one aspect of the game that had ever been seen, fielding.

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Post by Hoggy_Bear on Thu 29 Mar 2012, 12:56 am

On Ames Mike.
I actually think his record probably is good enough to get him in the HoF. Test average over 40, only 'keeper to score 100+ FC centuries, one of only two men too have acheived the 'wicketkeepers double', and the only one to do it more than once.
As for his keeping, was it poor? He certainly kept well to spin, as his record number of stumpings shows, and he was also good standing back, as his keeping during the Bodyline series where, so I've read, he didn't miss a chance, shows.
Add in years of administrative work for both Kent and England and he has a very strong case IMO.

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Post by Mike Selig on Thu 29 Mar 2012, 10:26 pm

Hoggy_Bear wrote:On Ames Mike.
I actually think his record probably is good enough to get him in the HoF. Test average over 40, only 'keeper to score 100+ FC centuries, one of only two men too have acheived the 'wicketkeepers double', and the only one to do it more than once.
As for his keeping, was it poor? He certainly kept well to spin, as his record number of stumpings shows, and he was also good standing back, as his keeping during the Bodyline series where, so I've read, he didn't miss a chance, shows.
Add in years of administrative work for both Kent and England and he has a very strong case IMO.

Only keeper to score 100 FC centuries is a good shout, I didn't know that. Thanks.

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Post by dummy_half on Fri 30 Mar 2012, 3:59 pm

For Ames, the number certainly suggest he was a fine batsman (Test and FC averages are better than Woolley, although over a shorter period), but also indicate his keeping was extremely compentent as well - records for the most FC stumpings ever, most stumpings in a season and with him being the only keeper to achieve the double (100 dismissals and 1000 runs in a season) more than once. Also was the first keeper to score a Test century for England - I wonder if he was actually the first for any country, as certainly no-one did this for Australia until Rod Marsh.

Indeed, that he was England's first choice keeper through the whole of the 30s suggests that there can't have been that much wrong with his glove-work either when keeping to spinners or to the quicks as in the Bodyline series. His Wisden Obituary includes the following:
"Behind the stumps he maintained a consistently high standard. Among his more notable efforts when playing for England were eight dismissals against West Indies at The Oval in 1933, and against South Africa in 1938-39 he conceded only one bye for every 275 balls delivered in the series. On the Bodyline tour he took the thunderbolts of Larwood and Voce with quiet efficiency. His style was unobtrusive; there were no flamboyant gestures. He saw the ball so early that he was invariably in the right position without having to throw himself about. His glovework was neat and economical, his stumpings almost apologetic."

Overall, he certainly seems a good candidate for our HoF.

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Post by Hoggy_Bear on Fri 30 Mar 2012, 4:44 pm

"Also was the first keeper to score a Test century for England - I wonder if he was actually the first for any country, as certainly no-one did this for Australia until Rod Marsh."

Not quite. Henry Wood, an Englishman, and Percy Sherwell, a South African, had scored test centuries when playing as wicketkeepers before him.

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;keeper=1;orderby=start;runsmin1=100;runsval1=runs;template=results;type=batting


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Post by Guest on Sat 31 Mar 2012, 5:02 pm

do we have a list of the players that have been voted into the HOF thus far?

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Post by Shelsey93 on Mon 02 Apr 2012, 5:24 pm

Les Ames

As far as I can see Ames is an under-sung statistical anomaly - a keeper who averaged 40 in Tests in the pre-Gilchrist era. For that reason I feel that he should join Alan Knott and Gichrist in the ranks of keepers enshrined in the 606 v2 Hall of Fame. He features at No. 64 in Christopher Martin-Jenkins' 'Top 100 Cricketers of All Time':

- "a star in an age of cricket quite different from the present one"
- "a dashing attacking batsman who played especially well against spinner"
- "only wicket-keeper to have scored 100 first-class hundreds"
- "two other records that are unlikely ever to be surpassed: in 1932 he stumped 64 of his 100 victims; and in his career 415"
- "His accomplice in 259 of those stumpings was the diminutive wizard of leg-breaks and googlies 'Tich' Freeman"
- "no English wicket-keeper has spent so much time up to the stumps as Ames"
- "In 1928 he combined 122 dismissals with 1,919 runs; the following season 128 dismissals with 1,795 runs. His 100 dismissals in 1930 could be added to 2,482 runs"
- "As a batsman his approach was always to attack if possible and, blessed with nimble footwork, he was never afraid to be stumped himself. Caught in the deep on one occasion off the renowned Gloucestershire off-spinner Tom Goddard, he said with a smile to one of the fielders: 'I'd rather be caught there than at short-leg'.
- "made 105 in the second innings of his third game for England, at Port-of-Spain in 1929-30, and added a second century - his highest, 149, - at Kingston"

Talking about the skill of wicket-keeping (as opposed to the combination of batsman with keeper), Sir Pelham Warner comments in 'The Book of Cricket' that "In English cricket today, Ames and Duckworth are supreme" and says that "Ames did wonderfully well in Australia in 1932-33... Standing back to Larwood, Voce and Allen he was very safe, and his stumping of V. Richardson, off Hammond, in the fourth Test Match at Brisbane, was a most brilliant piece of work. Fortunate indeed is the eleven which has such so capable a batsman as a wicket-keeper".

A short biography of Ames is provided by Warner in the 'Some Cricketers of My Time' section:

"Ames has already been mentioned in the chapter on wicket-keeping, and he is undoubtedly the best wicket-keeping batsman England has had. Very quick on his feet he is a great lover of a half-volley, and his stroke play is both varied and strong. At one time he was not at all certain against the highest class of bowling, but constant practice in the best company has brought improvement in this respect, and in 1933 he scored over 3,000 runs. When not keeping wicket Ames is a fine out-field, being a fast runner and a safe catch".

Ames also has an entry in Brian Johnston's 'It's Been A Piece of Cake - A Tribute To My Favourite Test Cricketers'. Johnston adds that Ames's "appeals were made in a gentlemanly way in contrast to the 'quack-quack' of George Duckworth" !

CMJ and Warner both focus on his county career. However, in case anybody doubted his ability at international level, read these extracts from his Wisden obituary :

First on his batting

"In the fourth and final match, at Kingston, he hit his highest Test score of 149. Against New Zealand in 1931, Ames (137) and G. O. B. Allen (122) put on 246 together for the eighth wicket at Lord's, which has remained a record in Test matches for that wicket. The runs, which rescued England from a paltry 190 for seven, were made in under three hours, while at Christchurch in 1932-33 he and Hammond flogged the bowling all over the ground to the tune of 242 in 144 minutes for the fourth wicket. More restraint was expected of him at Lord's in 1934 against Australia on the first afternoon, when he and Leyland came together and added 129 in what was to prove a crucial partnership. Failure then, and England instead of Australia would have been caught on the sticky wicket so brilliantly exploited by Verity. Ames used to say that he was more proud of this innings of 120 than of all his others; Wisden simply described it as inspiring. In 1935, against South Africa at The Oval, he made 123 before lunch on the final day, a tremendous effort and still the most runs in the morning session of a Test match. In 1938 at Lord's, Hammond (240) and Ames (83) added 186 for England's sixth wicket against Australia, and that winter in South Africa, on his last major tour, Ames again helped his captain in a major partnership. At Cape Town, in the Second Test, the pair put on 197 in 145 minutes for the fourth wicket, both scoring hundreds. Ames finished the series with an average of 67.80 and a career average in Test of 40.56."

And now on his keeping

"Behind the stumps he maintained a consistently high standard. Among his more notable efforts when playing for England were eight dismissals against West Indies at The Oval in 1933, and against South Africa in 1938-39 he conceded only one bye for every 275 balls delivered in the series. On the Bodyline tour he took the thunderbolts of Larwood and Voce with quiet efficiency. His style was unobtrusive; there were no flamboyant gestures. He saw the ball so early that he was invariably in the right position without having to throw himself about. His glovework was neat and economical, his stumpings almost apologetic."

This, from the same article, highlights the 'little bit extra' that some voters are looking for in addition to cricketing ability

"Well versed in man management and administrative skills from his war service, he was given charge of three M.C.C. tours -- the 1966-67 Under-25 team to Pakistan, and the senior sides to the West Indies in 1967-68 and Ceylon and Pakistan in 1968-69 -- and he was a selector from 1950 to 1956 and again in 1958, the first professional to be appointed as such. From 1960-74 he was secretary/manager of Kent, a post he filled with conspicuous success, commanding the respect of the players by his sense of discipline and absolute fairness. From years of failure Kent improved steadily until they won the Championship in 1970. The county's second great partnership, with Colin Cowdrey in charge in the middle and Ames working behind the scenes, had had its reward at last, and by now Kent were becoming one of the dominant forces in the limited-overs competitions. Ames was an honorary life member of M.C.C. and was in time elected to the Club's committee."

Ames kept in 44 of his 47 Tests - in the three he didn't keep in he averaged only 9.40, bringing his average in those matches he kept to to 43.40.

For me there is little doubt that Ames is well worth a Hall of Fame place. I can't force anybody to vote either way, but hope this post convinces any of you still in doubt that he should get in.


Last edited by Shelsey93 on Mon 02 Apr 2012, 8:30 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Hoggy_Bear on Mon 02 Apr 2012, 8:28 pm

Some good stuff there Shelsey

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Post by alfie on Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:42 am

Wow , Shelsey

Comprehensive !

Ames has my vote anyhow ...

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Post by Guest on Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:04 pm

fists are you around?

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Post by dummy_half on Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:06 pm

Mike
I think your criticism of Ames as not being significant in how the game developed is a bit unfair - surely the fact that he was so far ahead of his time with regards to being an effective batsman as a keeper should be considered a massive positive in his HoF credentials, as it took 40 years for anyone else to come along who was even remotely close.

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Post by Shelsey93 on Tue 03 Apr 2012, 5:50 pm

Players who kept wicket in 10 or more Tests, in order of highest average and only including matches in which they kept wicket:

Flower - 55 Tests, 53.70, 12 100s
Gichrist - 96 Tests, 47.60, 17 100s
Prior - 52 Tests, 43.60, 6 100s
Ames - 44 Tests, 43.40, 8 100s
Sangakkara - 48 Tests, 40.48, 7 100s
Walcott - 15 Tests, 40.36, 3 100s
Lindsay - 15 Tests, 40.00, 3 100s
Dhoni - 67 Tests, 37.32, 5 100s
Haddin - 43 Tests, 35.82, 3 100s
Stewart - 82 Tests, 34.92, 6 100s

The next best pre-war is the South African Jock Cameron, who averaged 30.21 in 26 Tests.

The stats speak for themselves here




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Post by Corporalhumblebucket on Tue 03 Apr 2012, 9:47 pm

I agree the case for Ames is pretty much made...

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Post by guildfordbat on Tue 03 Apr 2012, 9:53 pm

Shelsey93 wrote:Players who kept wicket in 10 or more Tests, in order of highest average and only including matches in which they kept wicket:

Flower - 55 Tests, 53.70, 12 100s
Gichrist - 96 Tests, 47.60, 17 100s
Prior - 52 Tests, 43.60, 6 100s
Ames - 44 Tests, 43.40, 8 100s
Sangakkara - 48 Tests, 40.48, 7 100s
Walcott - 15 Tests, 40.36, 3 100s
Lindsay - 15 Tests, 40.00, 3 100s
Dhoni - 67 Tests, 37.32, 5 100s
Haddin - 43 Tests, 35.82, 3 100s
Stewart - 82 Tests, 34.92, 6 100s

The next best pre-war is the South African Jock Cameron, who averaged 30.21 in 26 Tests.

The stats speak for themselves here


Shelsey - Although you state these stats speak for themselves, I'm unsure how valuable they are. A keeper / batsman has to be judged not just on his batting but also his keeping.

By way of example, Stewart appears on your list but Knott doesn't. Whilst Knott's batting average was lower, I would place him well above Stewart as a keeper / batsman (or even a batsman / keeper) as his (Knott's) work behind the stumps was vastly superior.

The batting stats clearly and positively come into the mix for Ames but by themselves don't make an insurmountable case for me. I need to catch up on all aspects.

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Post by Shelsey93 on Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:04 pm

guildfordbat wrote:
Shelsey93 wrote:Players who kept wicket in 10 or more Tests, in order of highest average and only including matches in which they kept wicket:

Flower - 55 Tests, 53.70, 12 100s
Gichrist - 96 Tests, 47.60, 17 100s
Prior - 52 Tests, 43.60, 6 100s
Ames - 44 Tests, 43.40, 8 100s
Sangakkara - 48 Tests, 40.48, 7 100s
Walcott - 15 Tests, 40.36, 3 100s
Lindsay - 15 Tests, 40.00, 3 100s
Dhoni - 67 Tests, 37.32, 5 100s
Haddin - 43 Tests, 35.82, 3 100s
Stewart - 82 Tests, 34.92, 6 100s

The next best pre-war is the South African Jock Cameron, who averaged 30.21 in 26 Tests.

The stats speak for themselves here


Shelsey - Although you state these stats speak for themselves, I'm unsure how valuable they are. A keeper / batsman has to be judged not just on his batting but also his keeping.

By way of example, Stewart appears on your list but Knott doesn't. Whilst Knott's batting average was lower, I would place him well above Stewart as a keeper / batsman (or even a batsman / keeper) as his (Knott's) work behind the stumps was vastly superior.

The batting stats clearly and positively come into the mix for Ames but by themselves don't make an insurmountable case for me. I need to catch up on all aspects.

I agree with you completely there. But all the sources I can find praise Ames's keeping as highly as his batting.

And the fact that of the others on the list 1 was only really a part time keeper, 7 played/are playing post-1990 and the other only kept in 15 Tests surely makes him pretty unique.

Anyway, I think I've exhausted the case for Ames now. Will investigate d'Oliveira and Constantine more when I get the time.

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Post by Corporalhumblebucket on Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:32 pm

A tribute to "Dolly" which appeared in the Telegraph. A bit on the long side, but it's worth reading:

From his introduction as the first non-white South African in English county cricket, to his role in the banning of South Africa from international cricket and sport in general, to his long sad decline with Parkinson’s disease, D’Oliveira’s life was perhaps the most extraordinary the game has ever seen.

As a cricketer, he was a very good, powerfully built batsman and a competent bowler. He could have become a great batsman if the opportunity had come earlier in his career.

He would never reveal his actual date of birth – he would not have been selected for Middleton, Worcestershire or England if he had – but he let it be known that he was born at least three years earlier than the 1931 date which he officially gave. In other words he was at least 32 when he was given a chance in league cricket, 34 when he qualified for Worcestershire, and 38 when he was first chosen for England – and probably three to five years older. Thus his aggregates of 18,882 first-class runs at an average of 39.67, and 2,484 Test runs at 40.06, would surely have been more than doubled if he had been granted a normal career in a normal society.
D’Oliveira however was unlucky enough to have been born a non-white in apartheid South Africa and brought up under the weight of all the discriminations that that system imposed.

He was a Cape Coloured, although in 1995 when – for the first time since emigrating – he returned to the house where he grew up on Signal Hill in Cape Town, during a visit funded by The Sunday Telegraph, he told me his forebears probably came from Madeira, not Malaya or Indonesia like most of his community: hence the Portuguese surname. Thus classified, what chance of a decent life did he have? Or, as John Arlott phrased it: “What opportunity was there for a boy cricketer, denied by the laws of his native country organised coaching; parental financial capacity to afford proper gear; the use of a grass wicket or a safe outfield; the opportunity to take part in a first-class match or to play against opponents experienced at such a level?”

In non-white South African cricket, on rough pitches usually of matting, D’Oliveira hit 80 centuries before trying for better luck abroad: had he spent the first 15 years of his adulthood in English first-class cricket he could have scored a similar number of first-class hundreds, in addition to the 43 he actually made. His early experiences made him a back-foot player – the bounce being so unpredictable on semi-derelict grounds – with a short back-lift. A strict cricket-playing father, who monitored his performances without praise, combined with D’Oliveira’s natural determination to succeed at what he did best.

In South Africa, the closest he came to "official" cricket was when he sat in the cheap stands where non-whites were segregated at Newlands in Cape Town. He had given up hope of playing at such a level, was about to give up the game itself, and had just got married to Naomi from his own community, when the break came: for several years Arlott, famous radio commentator and cricket correspondent of The Guardian, had been trying to persuade a league club in England to employ D’Oliveira as a professional.

Naturally, none would – there was no evidence that Cape Coloureds could play organised cricket as they had never been given the chance – until Middleton in the Central Lancashire League had their pro cry off at the start of the 1960 season, needed a late replacement, and were persuaded to give D’Oliveira a go. Even then the club wasn’t prepared to risk much money, and his friends had to raise money through charity matches in Cape Town so that he could make ends meet in a completely alien world.
In his first several weeks in England, on damp turf pitches, D’Oliveira could hardly make a run: 25 in his first five league innings.

The alien-ness was not confined to the cricket field. Brought up as a third-class citizen at best, the self-esteem beaten out of him by the South African system, he was not used to being treated as a human being. He was aghast, on the train journey north from London, at being allowed to sit in a restaurant car with white people; he was amazed at the sight of a television. He was far too insecure and shy to socialise and talk about cricket and the new techniques he had to learn in order to play swing and seam bowling. But the talent came out: he started to make runs, in stacks, until he topped the Central Lancashire League batting averages for the season ahead of the greatest all-round cricketer ever known, Garfield Sobers.

The confusions which D’Oliveira had to overcome in his career were illustrated when he returned by ship to Cape Town at the end of his 1960 season: so sporting, if only in the literal sense, were many white South Africans that he was feted on landing, and driven in triumph through the streets, accompanied by bands, to a reception by the Mayor of Cape Town.
Yet, at the same time, his heavily pregnant wife Naomi was not allowed to use the whites-only toilet at the docks. D’Oliveira learnt how to acquire a massively calm exterior: when he walked out for his Test debut at Lord’s in 1966 and the crowd cheered him to the echo, no English gentleman to the manor born could have been more dignified. But, inside, experience filled him with turbulent emotions.

In 1964, obviously too good for league cricket, he qualified for Worcestershire – at the persuasion of his friend and team-mate Tom Graveney – and helped them to retain the county championship the following year.

Simply to make a place for himself in such a strong side, he had to become a reliable slip fielder and a good fourth seamer, as well as a dependable number five or six. He was certainly that: he made a century on his championship debut and another in his second championship match. As he had by now taken out a British passport, so that he could go on cricket tours to Asia without being turned away as a South African citizen, it was soon apparent that he would be good enough for England. And thus, as one of the oldest Test debutants, he walked out at Lord’s in 1966 to a tremendous ovation – although he remarked later in his autobiography, Time to Declare, that he thought Headingley in Leeds was the only English Test ground where the crowd was 100 per cent behind him.
He was soon to be proved right about Lord’s not being completely supportive. Even though he became an England regular, and scored a brilliant 158 against Australia at the Oval in 1968, the England selectors did not select him in the 16-man touring party to South Africa that winter.

Pressures came from above, no doubt from the very top of government. D’Oliveira became the cause célèbre: a few voices at the top spoke up for him – Mike Brearley and David Sheppard most notably – but otherwise the cricket establishment was far keener on preserving traditional ties with apartheid South Africa than on striking a blow against institutionalised injustice. ’Sport and politics’ don’t mix was their slogan. Then Tom Cartwright pulled out of the original touring party through injury, D’Oliveira was selected in his place, and the South African prime minister John Vorster immediately called off the tour, affronted by the presence of a non-white in the England team.

As the controversy over sporting links with apartheid South Africa raged like no other cricketing controversy before or since – not Bodyline, not Zimbabwe – D’Oliveira maintained his outward calm and dignity, but he was not unscathed. The frustration ran deep, naturally. He revealed it in an anecdote in his autobiography, about a game in Scarborough in 1966 when he batted against the white South African fast bowler Peter Pollock:
“Now Pollock was a very aggressive quickie, a typical South African in fact. Well, he bowled me a beamer (a head-high full toss, now illegal) in this game at Scarborough and the crowd – that lovely Yorkshire crowd who always supported me loudly – all went mad. I wasn’t too keen either. I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, to think that the ball had slipped or that his footholds were troubling him – but no, he just looked straight at me grimly, didn’t apologise or look at his footholds. All the anger and frustration of a coloured South African facing up to a white South African welled up inside me and I thought, “I’ll get you”. I didn’t believe he would bowl another beamer at me so I decided to hit him out of sight next ball. Fortunately the ball pitched in just the right spot and I can still see it flying into the top of the stand and the crowd cheering themselves hoarse ...” D’Oliveira and Pollock made up when they toured Australia together and the latter recognised the former as a fellow cricketer and human being.
But the side-effects of his upbringing in the South African system surfaced when D’Oliveira drank alcohol. He had never drunk until he was living in England and playing on a cricket tour in Rhodesia, and Everton Weekes – later Sir Everton, but always a bon viveur – was celebrating his birthday.

He pressed D’Oliveira to accept alcohol, which he did, and within an hour he was being "carted off to bed". Thereafter, he was poor at self-control in his cups.

In the rest of his on-field career Dolly – as he came to be known – helped England under Ray Illingworth to regain the Ashes in Australia in 1970-1, and to retain them by sharing the 1972 series, his last. By then he was at least 44, perhaps much older. In his 44 Tests he also took 47 wickets at an average of 39, so that he bore the mark of an allrounder in that his batting average was higher than his bowling. He developed something of a golden arm as a partnership-breaker with medium-paced outswing or offspin. As a fielder it was perhaps fortunate that he did not play in the era of one-day internationals. Indeed, so leisurely was the pace of Test cricket that for his first two seasons with England he managed to play when unable to throw because of a shoulder injury.

Until 1979 he carried on playing for Worcestershire. On his retirement as a player he became a coach at New Road, where he advised the young Graeme Hick to just go out and hit the ball – advice which was never quite taken. He had the pleasure of seeing his son Damian become a Worcestershire batsman for several seasons, before Parkinson’s disease set in. After returning to South Africa for the England tour of 1995-6, he was unable to go for their tour of 2004-5, when the trophy for which the two countries competed was named after him. In his twilight years he followed Naomi around, increasingly oblivious to everything else, before entering a nursing home.

Even in his restricted career, when he was past his physical prime, D’Oliveira was a formidably strong cricketer. But it was for the struggle which he experienced, and personified, and won, that he was famous and loved. He wondered why the English public for the most part took him to their hearts: perhaps because they like an underdog, he thought, “in the way only the English can.” More than that though, as d’Oliveira walked out for his Test debut at Lord’s, he symbolised a triumph of the human spirit in the face of injustice, cruelty, inhumanity. History may well decide that the lives of millions of non-white South Africans would have been made wretched for even longer but for Basil d’Oliveira.

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Post by guildfordbat on Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:23 pm

Corporalhumblebucket wrote:A tribute to "Dolly" which appeared in the Telegraph.

.... he symbolised a triumph of the human spirit in the face of injustice, cruelty, inhumanity. History may well decide that the lives of millions of non-white South Africans would have been made wretched for even longer but for Basil d’Oliveira.
I believe we and history have already decided that.

Thanks for sharing the whole tribute, Corporal. Totally fitting.

Never can a man have been so dignified or deserving of a place in our Hall of Fame.

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Post by dummy_half on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 10:03 am

When's the voting deadline for this lot?

At the moment I'm reasonably certain of 4 yes votes, but am looking for more information on Constantine - I do recall a documentary feature many years ago talking about his time in the Lancashire league and it is clear that he was held in the greatest respect both as a player and a man, but his playing record (FC and Tests) is not enough to justify his HoF place and I'm not persuaded that the extra reasons are quite strong enough or closely enough related to his cricketing career (unlike with Dolly) to justify his inclusion.

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Post by Guest on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 11:14 am

fists?

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Post by Fists of Fury on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 1:33 pm

This coming Tuesday.

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Post by dummy_half on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 2:04 pm

Cheers Fists.

I'm surprised there were a couple of somewhat negative comments about Dravid up thread, mainly on the basis that he was probably only about the 5th best batsman of the recent era:
Only the second batsman to score 13000 test runs, at an average well above 50.
Most balls faced in Test cricket
Most catches by a non wicket keeper.

Unlike several of his Indian contemporaries, his record is actually better outside India, with averages in excess of 60 in both England and New Zealand, where swing and seam movement have normally caused Indian players difficulties.
His record against Australia, who were the strongest team throughout his career is not special, averaging just over 40, but it was the site of his most significant innings in partnership with VVS Laxman, turning a game from India following on to an Indian victory against at that time the strongest test playing nation.

We recently added Courtney Walsh and Brian Statham to the HoF, and in some ways Dravid is the batting equivalent of these - consistently very good through a prolonged career although not necessarily even the star batsman of his side during that time.

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Post by Mike Selig on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 2:17 pm

dummy, that was me and partly to play devil's advocate. I just felt he was getting an acclamatory YES which was not quite merrited, and some points had to be raised.

I did also acknowledge his catching record, and wonderful partnership with VVS.

You mention Walsh and Statham: interestingly I think I voted NO to both of them (certainly Walsh).

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Post by Guest on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 2:18 pm

dravid has to be in there IMO, one of the best players of all time easily.

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Post by Mike Selig on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 2:19 pm

Thanks to all for the comments on Ames. I think dummy's comment that he was "ahead of his time" is probably justified. I maintain that he didn't change the way cricket was played in the way that Gilchrist did (as witnessed that it took until the last 10 years for the keeper to be required to average 35-40 at least), but this shouldn't be held against him.

Certainly the best pre-war keeper-batsman by such a street it would be petulant to omit him on my part.

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Post by Mike Selig on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 2:22 pm

cricketfan90 wrote:dravid has to be in there IMO, one of the best players of all time easily.

At the risk of being somewhat disingenuous everyone is one of the best players of all time, depending on how many players you pick. I wouldn't have Dravid in the top 20 or even 30 (and don't feel qualified to judge at what place he should be given how recently he has retired) which is what I'd be looking for for automatic entry into the HoF. Those not in that list fail Mike's "unquestioned all-time great" list and thus must fall back on other attributes to gain entry. Dravid has plenty of those.

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Post by dummy_half on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 4:58 pm

Mike
I've no problem with someone playing Devil's Advocate on a thread like this - it's helpful to make us take a closer look at the nominees. I know I did it a bit with both Statham and Walsh, although ended up voting YES for both of them.

With regards to Ames not changing the way the game is played, perhaps this was because no-one else COULD do the job he did, as he was clearly a proper keeper (indeed, holding a number of FC records which suggest he was at least a very good 'pure' keeper) with the bonus of scoring runs like a top-order batsman. Even 40 years later, with the likes of Knott and Marsh making batting a bigger part of the keeper's arsenal, an average around 30 was considered exceptional and the glovework was probably still the more significant component.

Arlott is undoubtedly an all-time great of the commentator's art, although some have said that his writing was a little more variable in quality. Don't think many need to play Devil's Advocate in this case - it is simply the question of whether non-players are to be included; Fists, as the founder of our HoF says they are, so surely Arlott is correctly to be our first non-playing HoF member.

As for Dolly and Constantine, in some ways we are considering similar candidates - neither achieved enough purely as players to justify their membership of our HoF, but both have stories to tell of racism and restricted opportunities, and both found redemption initially in Lancashire League cricket. The wider story of D'Oliveira was right at the intersection of sport and politics, and so with his grace under pressure this strongly enhances his HoF credentials.

By comparison, Constantine's back story appears to be mainly about what happened after cricket - he became a very important political figure in both the UK and the Caribbean, but this only related to cricket because of his star player status and the opportunities this gave him rather than being a more direct relationship. As such, while it means he was a man that should be admired, it doesn't to me appear to strengthen his HoF candidacy significantly.

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Post by Hoggy_Bear on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 6:28 pm

As playing Devil's advocate seems to be so popular on here today, can I just ask exactly what, other than keeping a dignified silence and lending his name to it, Basil d'Oliveira actually did during the 'd'Oliveira affair?'
While it is true that he was the catalyst that brought the issue of Apartheid to the fore in cricket, he didn't actually do anything to make that happen, it was the actions of others with regard to d'Oliveira that brought the issue to a head.
In a sense it could be argued that the real heroes of the affair were the likes of Mike Brearley and John Arlott, who pressed for d'Oliveira's inclusion in the England squad, rather than d'Oliveira himself.

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Post by guildfordbat on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 8:42 pm

Hoggy - I'll post a Guardian article in tribute to both Arlott and D'Oliveira later tonight (or tomorrow at latest).

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Post by Corporalhumblebucket on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 10:28 pm

Hoggy_Bear wrote:As playing Devil's advocate seems to be so popular on here today, can I just ask exactly what, other than keeping a dignified silence and lending his name to it, Basil d'Oliveira actually did during the 'd'Oliveira affair?'.

Hoggy: at least two possible answers: (a) never has an innings of 158 (d'Oliveira Oval, 1968) had so much historical significance; or (b) Quiet dignity at a crucial turning point in history is a quality not to be underestimated. Don't want to steal Guildford's thunder but as Peter Mason in the Guardian put it:

"The dignified but determined way in which D'Oliveira dealt with the resulting turmoil won the hearts of the British public and, more importantly, proved to be a turning point in the South African attitude to segregated games. Although it took many years for things to change, the D'Oliveira affair ushered in the start of a gradual easing of official segregation in South African sport, and significantly hurt the regime's world standing."

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Post by Corporalhumblebucket on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 10:38 pm

And to elaborate on point (a) above from an article by Andre Odendaal:

Throughout 1967 and 1968, the president of the whites-only South African Cricket Association, Arthur Coy, was working actively with Prime Minister BJ Vorster and their sympathisers at the highest levels of the MCC, to make sure D'Oliveira was not selected for the 1968 MCC tour to South Africa.

At first excluded from the England team against Australia, he got a last chance after withdrawal from injury. His answer was an innings of 158 at the Oval which according to Peter Oborne - "It was by no means the most technically difficult innings D'Oliveira ever constructed.... Nevertheless it was still the greatest innings D'Oliveira or for that matter, any other cricketer has ever played."

Cricket's historians will make the case for Bradman's 334 at Leeds in 1930 or Lara's 400 not out in Antigua in 2004. They are of course welcome to argue their cause.

"But those runs were not scored under conditions of unspeakable personal difficulty, against an attack comprising Prime Minister Johannes Vorster and South African apartheid at its most savage and corrupt, supported by the weight of the British Establishment. This was one. No other cricket innings has changed history. This one did. No other innings in Test history, to put the matter simply, has done anything like so much good.

"Basil D'Oliveira was eventually the ninth England Batsman out. He had scored 158. The Oval crowd understood the magnitude of what they had the overwhelming privilege to witness and rose as one to their feet. They applauded the great South African Batsman throughout his journey back from the wicket to the Pavilion, and the applause did not die down till long after D'Oliveira vanished out of sight and had settled himself, exhausted, into the England dressing room."

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Post by Hoggy_Bear on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 10:40 pm

Corporal
As I say, I am playing Devil's Advocate here to a great extent, but I would argue that A) while that 158 was made under tremendous pressure, it was the reaction to it (ie not picking d'Oliveira despite it), that made it politically significant, and B) that while quiet dignity,as you say, should not be underestimated, without the campaigning within cricket of the likes of Arlott and Brearley along with the wider campaign against apartheid led by the likes of Peter Hain, it is unlikely that d'Oliveira's dignified stance would have been quite as effective

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Post by Corporalhumblebucket on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 10:47 pm

Hoggy_Bear wrote:Corporal
As I say, I am playing Devil's Advocate here to a great extent,

I now hand over to Guildford (hopefully Very Happy) who will provide a much more thorough examination of Hoggy's undoubted (devil's) advocacy skills! Wink

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Post by Guest on Thu 05 Apr 2012, 9:34 am

how many of us are going to vote yes for Dravid?

i am

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Post by Hoggy_Bear on Thu 05 Apr 2012, 2:56 pm

cricketfan90 wrote:how many of us are going to vote yes for Dravid?

i am

Yeah, I'm pretty certain I'll vote yes for Dravid and Ames.
I'll probably vote yes for the other three as well, but I'm not quite as certain of that at the moment. More thought required.

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Post by Corporalhumblebucket on Thu 05 Apr 2012, 4:51 pm

I'm tending toward four YESs and a NO for Constantine.

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Post by Guest on Thu 05 Apr 2012, 5:38 pm

same corporal

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Post by Shelsey93 on Thu 05 Apr 2012, 9:05 pm

Good stuff so far on Dolly.

However, I can sense a tendency to dismiss his playing exploits and create the idea that his case is purely built around his political impact on the game.

I find this quite unfair. It was the very fact that he was almost certainly the best coloured cricketer in South Africa (he scored 80 100s on what were, by all accounts, hardly wickets at all and cannot have been batsman friendly) that meant that he effectively forced his way into professional cricket and demonstrated to the sporting world the stupidity of racialist policies such as that of the Apartheid South African government. His performances once he arrived in England further added to the role he played.

His finest hour in Test cricket was the 158 he made at The Oval in 1968. The innings will forever be associated with the controversy of Dolly not being picked for the SA tour after it. But it is often overlooked that it was a crucial part of a massive England win which secured a drawn Ashes series. Another of his 100s came in the 70/71 Ashes and helped England draw a Test at Melbourne in a series they eventually won 2-0. And an average of 40+ (when you consider he was pretty much an all-rounder at times, taking 47 Test wickets and 551 FC wickets), is not to be laughed at at all for a number 5 who played his international cricket when he was probably his past peak.

Of course this doesn't make his record first rate and that is probably why he is omitted from CMJ's 'Top 100 Cricketers of All Time' and from 'The Lord's Taverners Fifty Greatest' post-war cricketers, selected by Bailey, Benaud, Cowdrey and Laker in 1983. He does, however, have an entry in Brian Johnston's 1989 compilation of his favourite Test cricketers - 'It's Been a Piece of Cake'. Johnston emphasises that his initial non-selection for SA was as much down to poor performances in the West Indies the previous winter - "he enjoyed the tempting mixture of rum and sun too much" and wouldn't have played against Australia at The Oval were it not for injuries and the need for a fifth bowler in a must win Test. Selection customs at the time meant that performances in England didn't necessarily guarantee selection for winter tours, but the media had started campaigning for his inclusion and so it became a political issue. Johnston adds that "it is important to emphasise how well Dolly behaved throughout. He acted with great dignity and restraint and never put a foot wrong".

To conclude, I am still not 100% convinced that I will vote Yes for Basil. But I am pretty certain for the simple reason that he let his cricket do the talking, when the South African government thought his skin colour should dictate the course of his life. In doing so he set in motion South Africa's international exclusion, and perhaps (though I would perhaps argue something else would have happened anyway) hastened the end of the regime. I think this is a different case from Constantine's, who I will advocate a No for for reasons I will go into later.




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Post by Hoggy_Bear on Fri 06 Apr 2012, 12:34 am

Looks like I'm the only one considering voting for Constantine so, although I doubt it will make much difference, I would just like to reiterate his plus points; an all-rounder capable of changing games with either his batting or bowling at any level; one of the greatest ever professionals in the Lancashire League; a trailblazer for West Indian cricket; epitomized West Indian cricket throughout his career; the greatest fielder of the pre WWII period and one of the greatest fielders ever.
Food for thought?

Hoggy_Bear

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The 606v2 Cricket Hall of Fame - Part 3 Empty Re: The 606v2 Cricket Hall of Fame - Part 3

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