Top, from left:John Edrich, Matthew Elliott, Ross Edwards, Bill Edrich, Russell Endean, Dean Elgar Bottom, from left: Godfrey Evans, John Emburey, Phil Edmonds, Tom Emmett, Richard Ellison    Getty Images
Top, from left:John Edrich, Matthew Elliott, Ross Edwards, Bill Edrich, Russell Endean, Dean Elgar
Bottom, from left: Godfrey Evans, John Emburey, Phil Edmonds, Tom Emmett, Richard Ellison Getty Images

Alphabetical All Time XIs are great fun. Composing one from the cricketers with their last names starting with E, Arunabha Sengupta manages to form a useful team from a rather small pool of cricketers.

Coming to the E s, things get complicated.

Going through the alphabetical talent pool, we did have plenty of names to choose from while forming the A, B, C and D XIs. However, now that we have come up against our second vowel, the options get limited.

Only 41 cricketers with their last names starting with E have played Test cricket. Of them only 17 have played more than 10.

Hence, while we have struggled with problems of plenty with the earlier Alphabetical All-Time XIs, here we have a rather limited set of options.

However, the team that we have been able to form is a rather balanced one, with reasonable strength in each department. As a matter of fact, some rather famous cricketers do not manage to get into the side.

One major such name is Farokh Engineer. A top-class wicketkeeper and a useful batsman, he nevertheless loses out to a better man in Godfrey Evans. One of the greatest stumpers of all time, Evans is easily the most experienced Test cricketer among this lot, with 91 Test appearances. Engineer has to make do as the official after-dinner speaker of the side.

At the top of the order the natural choice is John Edrich. This southpaw played 77 times for England and scored over 5,000 runs with 12 hundreds.

The choice of a partner for Edrich was a contest between two more left-handers, New Zealand stonewaller Bruce Edgar and Australian grafter Matthew Elliott. In the end I opted for Elliott, because of a slightly superior record, a much faster rate of scoring and the ability to break into a top-notch Australian side of the late 1990s and the early 2000s.

The middle order has some substance as well.

Ross Edwards was a dependable batsman and an excellent fielder whose career remained short because of business commitments. Over 1,000 runs at an average of 40 plus underlines the quality.

At No. 4 is Bill Edrich, the Middlesex and England star, one of the pillars of the English batting after the Second World War. He can be counted upon to send down a few overs of fastish medium pace as well.

Russel Endean is at No. 5, a solid South African batsman who was also a champion fielder. His work in the outfield, particularly the catching, contributed majorly to the success of the off-spin of Hugh Tayfield. With a couple of spinners in this line up, his presence may turn out to be vital.

Dean Elgar is another South African who makes it to the side. An underrated cricketer, Elgar has more than 2,000 runs at an average touching 40 while he also has a knack of picking up important wickets with his left-arm spin. He edges out the Zimbabwean Craig Ervine.

The E-team has two very worthy Middlesex and England spinners in Phil Edmonds and John Emburey. With 115 Tests between them, they bring a lot of experience into the line-up. The numbers, seen under the modern lens, may not be very impressive. But in the 1980s, in an era when pace ruled and spin was considered a dying art euthanised by one-day cricket, these two gentlemen formed a respected duo.

It is pace bowling where this side is not really loaded with exceptional talent. Fidel Edwards has played 55 Tests and has 165 wickets under his belt, but those have come at almost 38 apiece. Whereas Richard Ellison s swing bowling had a decent average of 29.94, but 35 wickets in 11 Tests seems rather sketchy evidence to go on.

In fact, in the E pool, apart from Emburey and Edmonds, only Edwards has taken more than 100 wickets. Shaminda Eranga s 57 wickets have come at 37.50 apiece, and after that there is Bill Edrich with 41 wickets with his part-time pace ahead of Ellison. Steve Elworthy and Ehtesamuddin had Test careers that were too short to be evaluated.

We have to dig really deep, right back to the first few Tests, to find bowling quality for this team. Tom Emmett was a fascinating talent, a left-arm fast bowler for Yorkshire with a round arm action. He once captured 7 for 19 at Melbourne, and could give the ball a resounding wallop with the bat. I would pair him with Ellison to lend potency with the new ball. There is always Bill Edrich to run in as first change.

Whatever be the strengths and weaknesses of this side, they bat all the way up to No 11.

Hence the team:

Name R Ave W Ave
John Edrich 5,138 43.54
Matthew Elliott 1,172 33.48
Ross Edwards 1,171 40.37
Bill Edrich 2,440 40.00 41 41.29
Russell Endean 1,630 33.95
Dean Elgar 2,002 39.25 13 42.61
Godfrey Evans (wk) 2,439 20.49 C 173 St 46
John Emburey (c) 1,713 22.53 147 38.40
Phil Edmonds 874 17.50 125 34.18
Tom Emmett 160 13.33 9 31.55
Richard Ellison 202 13.46 35 29.94

12th man: Craig Ervine

Manager: Charles Eady

Official after-dinner speaker: Farokh Engineer