To meet my team of philosopher-cricketers, selected way back, this XI of writer-cricketers.
1. George (Matthew) Eliot, of Victoria, Australia and - his place of birth - Middlemarch. It has long been rumoured that Eliot had an earlier career as a wicket-keeper under the name Mary Ann (Godfrey) Evans, playing for Kent and England, but Eliot has always denied this. Had the rumour been established as true, it could have jeopardized his prospect of playing for Australia as a man. Eliot has a younger brother, T.S., a leg-spin bowler of some accomplishment who played club cricket at Little Gidding.
2. Kingsley (Dennis) Amis, of Warwickshire, England and that uncertain feeling which comes over a batsmen when he waves his bat airily outside offstump. Amis's son Martin opened the batting at club level - for London Fields.
3. Evelyn (Steve) Waugh [Captain], of New South Wales and Australia. Said to have learned his cricket on the handful of dust that was the family back yard, Waugh is known by the nicknames 'Stevelyn', 'Tugga', and 'Iceman'. His relation to another member of his family is unique in the annals of both literature and cricket in that Auberon (Mark) Waugh is at once his son and his twin brother. No one has ever been able to explain how this came about, dark references to his Vile Bodies notwithstanding.
4. Eugene (Norm) O'Neill, of New South Wales, Australia and that idyll about glorious summers at the SCG, Days Without End. Amazingly, in his The Iceman Cometh O'Neill predicted the advent of 'Stevelyn' Waugh.
5. Samuel (Richie) Richardson, of the Leeward Islands and West Indies. Altogether masculine in both bearing and conduct, Richardson never could understand why he was known amongst his team-mates as Clarissa, but he came to accept it as affectionately meant.
6. Derek (Clyde) Walcott [wicket-keeper], of Barbados and West Indies, the only keeper in the history of the game to win a Nobel Prize for Literature - with the citation 'for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity' - this despite the very creditable efforts of Ngaio (Rodney) Marsh, over whom Walcott has been preferred here on account of his better batting average. Walcott's fine poem, 'Those bails', indeed achieves the feat of rendering the most ordinary cricket equipment luminous.
7. Arthur (Keith) Miller, of Victoria, New South Wales and Australia. A superb all-rounder, Miller was married for a time to Marilyn Monroe. Some think he should have captained Australia, but he was passed over because of a last-minute change to the title of one of his best-known works, which was originally to have been called A View From the Pavilion. He is a distant cousin of Henry (Geoff) Miller, who was never much good at cricket owing to a life of sexual dissipation.
8. Flora (Jeff) Thompson, of Queensland, New South Wales and Australia. Nickname: 'Thommo'. It is disputed amongst scholars why Thommo's autobiography had the title Lark Rise to Candleford. One school of thought - the dominant, 'brutalist' school - maintains it was because his unique slinging action caused larks and other birds in the vicinity to take fright, and flight, at the moment of delivery. Others - of the 'aesthetic' school - argue that, after pitching, the trajectory of the best Thompson deliveries reminded them of a lark rising. David Lloyd is not of this latter school. The significance of 'Candleford' remains obscure.
9. Alan (Joel) Garner, of Barbados, Somerset and West Indies. After publication of his book The Owl Service, he came to be known as 'Big Bird'. As he stood 6ft 8 inches tall, the nickname suited him and stuck. The avian theme linking this and the previous entry is purely accidental and did not influence the selection process; but it may be seen, in a rough and ready way, as auguring well for the prospects of the Writers' XI opening pace duo.
10. Heinrich (Peter) Heine, of Orange Free State, Transvaal and South Africa. Best known for singing his poetry - some of which was set to music by his friend Jaap ('Tiens') Schubert, himself a highly-regarded club cricketer from Kimberley - at batsmen on the opposing side. One of his finest verses, 'Get up, I want to hit you again', enjoyed its first recital after Peter Richardson, the grandson of Samuel (Richie) Richardson [q.v.], was felled by Heine with a ferocious bouncer.
11. Julian (Sydney) Barnes, of Warwickshire, Lancashire and England, reckoned by some to be the best bowler who ever lived. His A History of the World in 10½ Chapters was originally conceived - like Marx's Theses on Feuerbach - as having the same number of segments as there are members of a well-formed cricket team. But bowling-fatigue left Barnes unable to complete the final chapter when a publisher's deadline caught up with him. Making a virtue of necessity, he brought the book to a swift conclusion, thereby omitting any assessment of the life of Shane Warne.
12th Man. Allan (Bob) Massie, of Western Australia and Australia, who made one of the most amazing debuts in Test history, taking eight wickets in each innings against England at Lord's in 1972, for an analysis of 16 for 137. After that Massie played in only five more Tests. The reason is thought to be that he was too busy writing books about the ancient world.