You can take your Border-Gavaskar, Compton-Miller, Chappell-Hadlee, even your Peden-Archdale… I am now unveiling, belatedly but otherwise as promised, the name of my award for the Ashes Player of the Tournament.
Presenting: the Midwinter-Midwinter. Who needs to invoke the names of two legends when you can honour one person twice?
Billy Midwinter had the distinction of playing for both England and Australia in Ashes competition. He played a total of twelve Tests between 1877 and 1887, six of those after the cremation of English cricket as announced in the Sporting Times.
While he’s not the only person to play on both sides in the Ashes (Bill Murdoch, Jack Ferris, Albert Trott and Sammy Woods are the others), Midwinter’s claim to immortality comes as the subject of possibly the most infamous player poaching scandal in sporting history.
It was June 20, 1878, when Midwinter was about to take the field in Australia’s tour match against Middlesex at Lord’s when WG Grace burst into the dressing room, kidnapped him, and rushed him in a cab to The Oval to play for Gloucestershire against Surrey. (Midwinter scored 4 and 0, Gloucestershire lost by 16 runs, and Australia was down to eleven players for the rest of the tour.)
The ensuing controversy raged for, oh, weeks.
Another reason why I have chosen the name “Midwinter-Midwinter” is that – and this is really spooky – every Ashes series, whether played in England or Australia, takes place while it is Midwinter in the country of the visiting team.
Points for the 2005 Midwinter-Midwinter are awarded on a daily for each of the five Test matches on a 3-2-1 basis (less points will be awarded on short days).
Progress points after the First Test at Lord’s:
4 – Glenn McGrath
3 – Michael Clarke, Shane Warne, Kevin Pietersen
2 – Steve Harmison, Damien Martyn
1 – Geraint Jones, Simon Katich