The Ashes: A Minyan (plus one) team that will really bowl you over!
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The Ashes: A Minyan (plus one) team that will really bowl you over!

In honour of England’s World Cup triumph and the start of the Ashes, Zaki Cooper and Daniel Lightman count down their First XI of Jews who’ve left an indelible mark on the game

Alastair Cook with the famous urn in 2015
Alastair Cook with the famous urn in 2015

This is not a team of the best Jewish cricketers – such an XI would surely include the likes of Adam Bacher, Ruth Buckstein, Dennis Gamsy, Jock Livingston and Sid O’Linn. And it is stronger in batting than bowling – the legendary English fast bowler Fred Trueman would have walked into the team, but for the recent questioning of his claim late in life to Jewish ancestry. But it would certainly not be a boring dressing room!

  1. Julien Weiner, 1955- (Australia)

The son of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Melbourne from, respectively, Poland and Austria, Wiener scored a century for Victoria on his first-class debut. An obdurate opening batsman, he played six Tests (three against England) and seven one-day internationals for Australia in 1979-80, making his highest score, 93, in the last of them, against Pakistan.

  1. Mandy Yachad, 1960- (South Africa)

Another specialist opener, Yachad scored 123 not out for South Africa against the rebel West Indies touring team – and 31 in an ODI against India. A natural sportsman, he also represented South Africa at field hockey.

  1. Ali Bacher (captain) 1942- (South Africa)

At 21, Ali Bacher was the youngest to captain Transvaal, for whom he once scored 235 to defeat the touring Australians.  In 1969–70, he led to an unprecedented 4-0 whitewash over Australia probably the strongest-ever South African team.  Dr Bacher went on to run the South African Cricket Board for a decade after South Africa’s readmission to international cricket in 1991.

Julien Weiner
  1. Michael Klinger, 1980- (Australia)

A stylish batsman, whose prolific run-scoring, especially in one-day cricket, earned him the moniker “the Jewish Bradman”, Michael Klinger, was belatedly picked for a three-match T20 series for Australia against Sri Lanka, in which he was the leading run-scorer.  Earlier this year he retired from the Australian Big Bash as the highest scorer in that competition.  He will captain Gloucestershire, as he has done for several years, in the T20 Blast this summer.

Klinger on debut for Australia against Sri Lanka, where he scored 38. Picture: Peter Haskin/AJN
  1. Louis Jacobson, 1918-2013 (Ireland)

A technically correct batsman – he learnt how to play cricket by reading coaching manuals – Dr Louis Jacobson won 12 caps for Ireland, scoring 101 not out against Scotland at Perth in 1950.  Wisden noted that “Jacobson showed sound defence and determination in a lengthy innings which prevented a likely defeat”.

  1. Mike Barnard, 1933-2018 (England)

A powerful batsman, Mike Barnard was a regular in the Hampshire team in the 1950s and 1960s, helping the county to its first Championship in 1961, and scoring centuries for Hampshire against the Pakistan, Australia and India touring teams.  Barnard was a fine fielder, taking 313 catches in 276 matches.

Mike Barnard
  1. Netta Rheinberg, 1911-2006 (England)

A batsman and first slip, Netta played for Gunnersby and Middlesex – and one Test match on the 1948-49 tour of Australia, thereby becoming the only Jew to play Test cricket for England. Unfortunately she was stumped for 0 in her first innings, and bowled first ball in the second!   A respected administrator and cricket writer, in 1999 she became one of the first 10 honorary women members of the MCC.

  1. Ivan Mordecai Barrow, 1911-1979 (West Indies)

Born in Jamaica to Sephardi parents, Barrow played 11 Tests for West Indies as a wicket-keeper batsman in the 1930s.  His 105 against England at Old Trafford in 1933 was the first century by a West Indian in an overseas Test – and he remains the only Jew to have scored a Test century.

  1. Maurice Manasseh, 1943- (Oxford and Middlesex)

Born in Calcutta, Manasseh was a big-hitting middle order batsman and off-spinner.  In the 1964 Varsity match at Lord’s he scored 45 and 100 not out, so enabling Oxford to avoid defeat.  He went on to play for Middlesex.

  1. Arthur Coy, 1902-1983 (Eastern Province)
Norman Gordon

Born Arthur Cohen in Kent in 1902, he later converted to Christianity and changed his surname from Cohen to Coy.  He went to live in South Africa, captained Eastern Province before the Second World War – taking 77 wickets in first-class cricket with his leg breaks at the excellent average of 19.79 – and was President of the South African Cricket Association in the 1950s.

  1. Norman Gordon, 1911-2014 (South Africa)

A medium-pace bowler, Norman Gordon took 5-103 and 2-59 in his first Test match, against England in 1938-39.  With 20 wickets, he was the leading wicket-taker on either side in what was his only Test series.

According to the England captain, Walter Hammond, he “showed himself a really reliable fast right-hander, always attacking and very difficult indeed to knock on to the defensive”.  The son of Russian immigrants, Gordon was the first openly Jewish cricketer to play for South Africa – and the first Test player to live to 100.

Norman Gordon with the legendary Brian Lara
  • Zaki Cooper and Daniel Lightman QC are co-authors of “Cricket Grounds from the Air”.
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