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Thread: What do you consider when picking ATG openers?

  1. #1
    International Captain LongHopCassidy's Avatar
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    What do you consider when picking ATG openers?

    Seems like the most common picks for ATG XI opening bats among seasoned cricket tragics seem to be Hobbs, Hutton, Gavaskar and (v. occasionally) Barry Richards.

    They all, however, seem to have automatic disqualifiers under each person's criteria:

    Hobbs: Played in the 1920s with very few professional players and low scientific training/professional standards, faced very few Test pacemen of note (Gregory, McDonald). Doesn't have a significantly different Test record to his longtime partner Sutcliffe, who is almost never considered.

    Hutton: Very slow strike rate (for example, his 364 took well over 800 balls on one of the flattest decks of all time with Waite and McCabe opening the bowling).

    Gavaskar: Lower Test average than the others, as well as playing half his Tests in pace-unfriendly conditions.

    Richards: Small Test sample size because his international career was cut short by apartheid sanctions.

    Personally I'd pick Gavaskar through his towering record against the Windies four-prong (both home and away, without a mutha****in helmet) and Hutton (best option on terrible wickets such as stickies and greentops). You?
    Last edited by LongHopCassidy; 24-08-2012 at 08:01 AM.
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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    Well bradman didnt open so every other player is going to have some kind of a qualifier. It just depends how much weight you put in each of the criteria.

    Gavaskars record against the WI four prong isn't great. It's great against WI in general but not against their full strength. It's not terrible mind you, but Michael Holding rates sunny as more of a fair weather batsman - he speaks highly of Amarnath actually when it came to facing them.
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    International Vice-Captain bagapath's Avatar
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    actually any two of hobbs, hutton, gavaskar, herbert sutcliffe and wg grace should be perfectly fine to open any dream team. trumper, greenidge, hayden, boycott, sehwag, barry richards, graeme smith, bob simpson, hanif mohammed and saeed anwar are not bad choices either.

    but for barry richards, all these players in the second bunch had long careers with stellar records. they succeeded against the best fast bowlers of their times in all sorts of conditions. some, like smith and anwar and sehwag and greenidge, were stroke players who liked to beat the opposition into submission. OTOH, lawry and boycott type of players built their innings through solid defense.

    yet, i would say the first bunch consists of players with superior techniques because hobbs, hutton, gavaskar and grace were great against both raw pace and swing. besides having the technical perfection of the other greats, they also had the temperament to let the bowler win the first hour before they could claw back into the game and build monumental innings without getting completely bogged down; which is more important from an opener than producing blitzing cameos. out of these, herbert sutcliffe was probably too slow (SR: 37) and grace played in a different world that we dont even know if the game was the same during his era. so ultimately the choices boil down to hobbs, hutton and gavaskar.

    i would probably pick hobbs and hutton though gavaskar remains one of my biggest heroes.
    Last edited by bagapath; 24-08-2012 at 08:19 AM.

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    International Captain The Sean's Avatar
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    Fair question this, though I think you're being a bit selective with your criticisms there mate. Hobbs played a good portion of his career before WWI and averaged 57 in an era where anyone averaging 40+ was something of a demi-God. The fact that he continued to score so heavily through the 1920s when he was well into his 40s and having lost some of his very best years to the war is all the more remarkable IMO. Sutcliffe was a magnificent player himself, though he was considerably younger than Hobbs and all of his career was played in the 1920s and early '30s, so ironically I think your criticism of Sir Jack is more appropriate to Herbert.

    Hutton, meanwhile, was quite a dasher in his youth and was known for his brilliant strokeplay. There is a story that one of the senior pros at Yorkshire took him aside early in his career and gave him a lecture to the effect of "It's all very well scoring your 70s and 80s before lunch, but you're opening for Yorkshire now son so don't be so bloody silly." Hutton stopped being "silly" and started being amazingly prolific. It seems harsh to just focus on that one innings of 364, when there are countless extraordinary innings he played against superb attacks - his 150-odd not out when he carried his bat against Lindwall, Miller and Johnston in 50/51 just one example I can think of.

    In an all time Test XI, it's Hobbs and Hutton opening for me - though if I expanded to a general All Time XI, the good Doctor would open with Sir Jack. And I'd apologise profusely to Sir Len.
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    International Vice-Captain watson's Avatar
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    Mailey (9), Grimmett (9), Gregory (7) and Cotter (4) dismissed Hobbs the most. Ted McDonald claimed his wicket only once.

    HowSTAT! Player Dismissal Analysis

    Hobbs faced some great spin bowlers, so no issue there. But it depends on how we view the fast bowling of Gregory, McDonald, and Cotter before we bracket him with Hutton, Gavaskar, or Richards.

    Interesting observation by LHC.
    PRE WWI
    Grace-Trumper-Hill-Taylor-Ranjitsinhji-Faulkner-Noble-Lilley-Turner-Richardson-Barnes
    PRE WWII
    Hobbs-Sutcliffe-Bradman-Hammond-Headley-Macartney-Ames-Gregory-Larwood-O'Reilly-Grimmett
    POST WWII
    Hutton-Simpson-Kanhai-Pollock-Harvey-Sobers-Waite-Benaud-Davidson-Lindwall-Trueman
    PACKER ERA
    Gavaskar-Greenidge-Richards-Chappell-Lloyd-Botham-Imran-Knott-Lillee-Holding-Underwood
    MODERN ERA
    Hayden-Langer-Ponting-Tendulkar-Lara-Kallis-Gilchrist-Marshall-Warne-Ambrose-McGrath

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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    As it is, the only player I would have a "strong" objection against would be Barry Richards.

    I usually go with Hobbs and Gavaskar but I think there are many other reasonable picks. Hobbs is an easy pick because even though he played a long time ago, he played in multiple eras and the weight of his accomplishment forces the issue. For me anyways.

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    International Captain LongHopCassidy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentstriker View Post
    Gavaskars record against the WI four prong isn't great. It's great against WI in general but not against their full strength. It's not terrible mind you, but Michael Holding rates sunny as more of a fair weather batsman - he speaks highly of Amarnath actually when it came to facing them.
    His average might have been inflated a bit by beating the ever-loving **** out of them in Chennai for his 236*.

    Yes, he didn't always get to face four West Indies greats at once, but he faced Roberts and Holding for nearly all his career and I'm fairly sure they both bowled at 150-155kph in their rhythm.

    And sometimes he did deliver against a full four-prong.

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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    I didn't say he never delivered....

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    International Vice-Captain watson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentstriker View Post
    Well bradman didnt open so every other player is going to have some kind of a qualifier. It just depends how much weight you put in each of the criteria.

    Gavaskars record against the WI four prong isn't great. It's great against WI in general but not against their full strength. It's not terrible mind you, but Michael Holding rates sunny as more of a fair weather batsman - he speaks highly of Amarnath actually when it came to facing them.

    He did score 147 against Holding, Roberts, Marshall and Garner at Georgetown in 1983. However his average for the 5 Test series was only 30.00.

    3rd Test: West Indies v India at Georgetown, Mar 31-Apr 5, 1983 | Cricket Scorecard | ESPN Cricinfo

    In the return home series he managed 236 runs against Holding, Roberts, Marshall, and Davis at Chennai. His average for the 6 Test series was a healthier 50.50

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63355.html

    So I guess, Gavaskar is like most Indian batsman. He performs better on slower Indian pitches when facing top notch fast bowling.

    I wonder how Jack Hobbs would go against Holding, Roberts, Marshall, and Garner at Georgetown?

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    International Captain The Sean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by watson View Post
    I wonder how Jack Hobbs would go against Holding, Roberts, Marshall, and Garner at Georgetown?
    Impossible to know for sure. Given what achieved in his own time against all opposition in all conditions, I'd back him to do better than most.
    Last edited by The Sean; 24-08-2012 at 08:50 AM.

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    International Vice-Captain watson's Avatar
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    This study has the following pecking order;

    It Figures | Cricket Blogs | ESPN Cricinfo

    01. Sutcliffe
    02. Sehwag
    03. Simpson
    04. Smith
    05. Hobbs
    06. Gavaskar
    07. Hutton
    09. Amiss
    09. Hayden
    10. Boycott

    I actually think that Simpson is one of the most underated openers of all time because he had little rest from Hall + Griffith, Trueman + Statham, and Pollock + Adcock + Goddard. It was unusual for him to face an easy attack.

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    International Vice-Captain watson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Sean View Post
    Impossible to know for sure. Given what achieved in his own time against all opposition in all conditions, I'd back him to do better than most.
    I think that you're probably right.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member fredfertang's Avatar
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    I'd go for Hutton on the basis of all I've read about him. As for his opening partner I have seen Barry Richards bat, and I don't believe there can ever have been a more talented batsman, Bradman included, though there have been plenty more single-minded - but if he was playing for an all-time XI he'd have the motivation he so often lacked when I saw him bat for Hampshire, so he'd partner Sir Len

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    I consider how good they are at opening the batting in cricket.
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