A Scottish Test XI

It was heartening to read the positive response to my recent feature on the great Don Bradman’s last hurrah to Blighty in Aberdeen back in 1948. Indeed, since the piece appeared, another member of the crowd, Eve Soulsby, who was 10 at the time, and 78 now, has been in touch with her memories of that special occasion.

But there was also an interesting request from another reader, asking me whether I could compile a team of Scots who had played Test cricket since the game sprung to life.

This wasn’t that easy a task. After all, since Scotland remains an ICC Associate country, anybody with talent born in Caledonia would inevitably have had to transfer their allegiance elsewhere. Then there was the fact that while plenty of Scots have done pretty well on the English county circuit, the majority haven’t come close to international recognition at Test level.

And yet, after delving into the record books, I think I’ve managed to come up with a high-class XI. You might argue with one or two of the choices – and I freely admit I have used poetic licence in one instance – but eight of this side were born in Scotland and a ninth and tenth had a Scottish parent or parents. That’s a higher strike rate than most recent England teams have managed!

Without further ado, here they are.

1) MIKE DENNESS, born Bellshill, near Glasgow. Played for England.

The one-time England captain suffered a miserable time as his charges were demolished by Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in 1974-75. But the Kent and Essex batsman was a genuinely talented performer, whose achievements both for county and adopted country means he merits inclusion. Not as captain.

2) GAVIN HAMILTON, born Broxburn, near Edinburgh. Played for England.

He started out as a fast bowler, who could bat a bit, developed into one of the stars at the 1999 World Cup and was immediately snapped up by England, who discarded him after just one Test in South Africa. He deserved better, but “Hammy” subsequently became an obdurate opening batsman, and showed his prowess in ODIs against England with 48 and 60 in 2008 and 2010.

3) ARCHIE JACKSON, born Rutherglen, near Glasgow. Played for Australia.

One of the great tragic figures in the history of cricket, Jackson hit 164 in his debut Test and was often compared to Bradman. We will never know how luminous his achievements might have been, because he fell victim to tuberculosis aged just 23.

4) GRAEME POLLOCK, born in South Africa, his father was from Edinburgh. Played for South Africa.

The iniquities of apartheid meant that this wonderful batsman’s Test caps were limited to just 23, but he averaged over 60 and few people dispute he would have excelled in any company. His father Andrew Maclean Pollock was born in Scotland in 1914. His nephew, Shaun, also starred for the Proteas in the 1990s.

5) DOUGLAS JARDINE (Captain). Born in India to Scottish parents. Played for England.

One of the most controversial figures in his realm, Jardine led the English to victory – amidst riots and diplomatic spats – during the notorious “Bodyline” series. A recent book helped restore his reputation – not that he or his family felt the criticism was justified – long after the former captain’s ashes were scattered on the hills of Perthshire.

6) DOUGIE BROWN, born in Alloa, near Stirling. Played for England.

One of the most whole-hearted cricketers ever to pull on his pads, the all-rounder excelled season after season at Warwickshire and was picked to represent England on the ODI stage. He has now become a successful coach at Edgbaston.

7) GREGOR MacGREGOR (W-K), born in Edinburgh, played for England at cricket and rugby for Scotland.

One of several multi-talented Scottish sportsmen of the Victorian era – others won Test caps in rugby, but restricted their cricketing heroics to Scotland duty – MacGregor turned out behind the stumps eight times for England and made a string of representative appearances during his short life – he died aged 49.

8) SHAUN POLLOCK – see above.

9) IAN PEEBLES, born in Aberdeen, played for England.

A leg-break bowler who once left the great Don Bradman admitting: “I was bamboozled by him and had the most unhappy time”, Peebles played in 13 Tests and was one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1931. He later wrote about the game with distinction and possessed a great variety of deliveries which explained why he was held in high regard.

10) ALEX KENNEDY, born in Edinburgh, played for England.

He took 31 wickets in one series against South Africa, but that was the extent of the success achieved by Kennedy, a player who could be scintillating, but was also wildly inconsistent. He briefly glittered as an all-rounder, but despite being one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1932, his statistics testify to the fact that even he rarely knew what was coming next in his career.

11) PETER SUCH, born in Helensburgh, near Glasgow. Played for England.

The affable Essex spinner started his Test career in spectacular fashion, taking six for 67 against Australia, and finished with 37 wickets in 13 matches, as well as performing at a high level on the county circuit. He also earned a standing ovation after scoring a 52-ball duck against New Zealand: the second-longest such effort in history.

What do you think? I would probably plump for Colin Smith behind the stumps, given his prowess with the bat, and I would find a place for Leslie Balfour-Melville, the remarkable multi-sporting talent, who skippered the Scots to victory over Billy Murdoch’s Australians in 1882. I might also seek to include Kyle Coetzer, who made history with a superb 156 against ICC Full Member Bangladesh at last year’s World Cup.

But none of that trio played Test cricket. Which is the only criterion that counts in this selection.


  1. Great job Neil

    . I recall Peter Such bowling to the Aussies in 1993. The memorable performance you cited was in the opening test. That six for in Australias was overshadowed by Warnies ball of the century.

    I recall Gavin Hamilton performing in the World Cup but his sole test for England; was that in South Africa?

    Archie Jackson, born in Rutherglen Scotland. I’m quite familiar with Rutherglen Victoria, though not the Scottish town its name originates from. I recall writing an article for the Almanac re Archie Jackson a few years ago. I need to go through my files !



  2. Neil Drysdale says

    Archie’s parents emigrated to Australia when he was four. There were quite a number of Scottish families who moved to the Southern Hemisphere and made a name in cricket. Tony Greig’s family had electrical
    stores in West Lothian – I recall seeing the A & W Greig sign in Bathgate – before they headed to South Africa. But I thought Greig’s links to Scotland were too tenuous. It’s still a pretty good team, though.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Very good team Neil, some great names there. Recall watching Gavin Hamilton at the 1999 World Cup, looked a superb young all-rounder. Apparently he lost all confidence in his bowling and hardly bowled in the second half of his career.
    Hopefully the next 11 Scottish Test cricketers are representing Scotland in a Test match!

  4. Grand stuff Neil. I came late to your Bradman piece but it gave me goosebumps reading it. The sense of relief at the end of WW2 must have been immense. Made a 4 day bike ride sleeping in the fields a doddle.
    I never knew Archie Jackson was born in Scotland. Everything I ever read said he was the equal of Trumper.
    Just wondering why no Peter Pollock when Graeme and Shaun get a guernsey. He was South Africa’s leading bowler in the 60’s before they were disqualified by apartheid. Pollock and Proctor cut a swathe through Lawry, Chappell, Walters etc on our last tour in 68. Averaged 21 with the bat too in 28 Tests. I see dad Andrew played a couple of pre-war seasons with Orange Free State as a wicket keeper in the Currie Cup. Modest record not worthy of selection in your XI, but he and his wife certainly had amazing sporting genes.

  5. G’day Neil. I found my Almanac posting on Archie Jackson, which i submitted in January 2013. In it i mentioned he was born in Rutherglen, Scotland. . How did i forget that? A seniors moment ! Keep up your greaa work.


  6. Barry McAdam says

    Very good team Neil, but I also noticed the Peter Pollock omission. Archie Jackson a tremendously sad story, like Peter I also didn’t know he was born in Scotland.
    Would like to hear more about Scotland’s win over Australia in 1882. Do you know of any pushes to make Scotland a Test nation back in those early days?
    Another marvellous read Neil. Keep them coming.

  7. Neil Drysdale says

    Thanks for the kind comments. I thought picking three Pollocks might be pushing it, but I just about remember Graeme Pollock before SA were ostracised from international cricket and he was very special. I talked to Shaun before the World Cup in SA and he was a great lad.
    Re the Scotland win over Aussies in 1882: watch this space!

  8. Peter Pollock sconned GD Watson on the head in the first dig the match he copped the beamer. Had a sneaky short ball by all accounts.

  9. Re Gavin Hamilton:
    he spent a very successful season at Spotswood CC (in the VTCA) a few years back.

  10. Dave Brown says

    Good stuff, Neil. Another name: David Larter, apparently born in Aberdeen. Huge fast bowler that played 10 tests in the ’60s and took 37 at 25. Was he in contention?

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