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The XI

Save Our Series – players parachuted in to a tour

1George Gunn

In 1907/08, Nottinghamshire batsman George Gunn was in Australia for health reasons, recovering from a haemorrhage of the lungs. The sun, his friends agreed, would do him the world of good. The best medicine, however, turned out to be of a wholly difierent kind. That winter, MCC were touring Australia, and after sudden illness to their captain, Arthur Jones, Gunn was suddenly called in as replacement batsman. With his health clearly returning, he made scores of 119 and 74 in the first Test, at Sydney, and would go on to play the entire series.

2Alastair Cook

Has a batsman ever slotted in so smoothly as Alastair Cook on his Test debut in Nagpur? With Marcus Trescothick returning to England with anxiety, England turned to Cook, who was in the Caribbean with the A team. His youth, he was 21, helped him cope with the gruelling journey, which took three days. He made 60 in the first innings before he was bowled by a beauty from Irfan Pathan, and then he made an unbeaten 104 in the second innings, setting up a declaration, although the match was drawn. GeoffBoycott purred about him on the radio (no easy feat to make him do that) and Mike Selvey predicted he would make 10,000 Test runs – a wild underestimation.

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About The Cricketer Magazine

England’s greatest batsmen – we asked 27 experts to name their top 5, and collated the results. There are some fascinating choices! The superb Simon Barnes, with the best turn of phrase in sports journalism, on England’s year so far. The feisty Jarrod Kimber on the state of play in Australian cricket. The elegant and massively under-rated David Townsend on Adelaide Oval. A lovely piece on the greatness of Dennis Lillee, by Simon Hughes. A forensic look at the problems at Sussex, by the man in the know, Bruce Talbot.