My Greatest XI – Adrian Mills

The latest Stoker to submit his Greatest XI is our newest member of the 500-club Adrian Mills. Selected by many others in their best ever sides, it’s time for Po to share his own selection with the world. Po writes…

I’ve had 16 seasons at Stoke, (so far), during which time I’ve played alongside hundreds of other players of varying abilities. Selecting the best will always be a matter of judgement so feel free to disagree with my selections – I know some of you will. I’ve decided for the purposes of this list that I have to have played at least 10 games with each player. That way I’ve been able to disregard anyone I’ve just played the odd one or two games with. Here goes…

Alistair McMillan is the club’s all time leading run scorer and opened the batting in the 2nd XI during my first few years for the club, acting as vice captain to Keith Watson. A reliable opening batsman and an absolute no-brainer to open the innings in my greatest XI. My favourite moment of his was the first century of his I witnessed at Stoke in a league game against Ottershaw in 2004 to set up a memorable win during a time where the club were struggling near the bottom of Fullers Division 2. (Scorecard :

Andy Page is another solid opening batsman with the ability to bat all day, good hands in the field and an extra bowling option if needed. He did a great job leading the Club through a period of transition a few years ago, bringing through and mentoring a lot of the younger players, including many of the current 1st XI. Having spent a couple of years sacrificing his own place in the batting order he’s had some memorable moments in the 2nd XI, including hitting the winning runs in our first game against Mitcham at the start of 2010’s promotion campaign. (Scorecard :

Simon Engelen was Stoke’s best batsman when I started at the club and the best left handed bat I’ve shared the field with. Well organised and just as capable of going in to bat with the score at 0 for 1 as he is with the score at 100 for 1. My favourite moment was his unbeaten 61 at Cranleigh in 2009, having gone to bat in the first over and paced his innings perfectly to be present for the winning hit just as the rains were threatening to spoil the afternoon. (Scorecard :

Shahil Ramdin came over for two seasons as our overseas player. “Paulie” arrived to keep wicket, but for me his batting stood out, averaging just short of 56 in the two league campaigns and never looking troubled by either pace or spin. Built some match winning partnerships, particularly with Will Gudgeon, but my favourite moment of his was seeing him dig us out of a hole, (68 for 4 chasing 170), at Sanderstead in 2014 and scoring 80 not out in the process. His innings was the calm needed to keep a good bowling attack at bay. (Scorecard :

Will Gudgeon is at his destructive best when trying to dominate bowlers and isn’t shy to attack when the opportunity presents itself. He slots into my team nicely at number 5. A great batsman to change the match in our favour quickly and the best person to take advantage of a tired attack, (which they clearly will be by the time they’ve got through this top 4!) I wish I’d been present for his ton at Avorians last season or the beast of a hundred against Churt a few years ago, (, but I’ll have to settle for naming his 146 in the 2017 Claygate game as the best knock of his I’ve seen. (Scorecard :

Jason Earl offers so much to the team with bat, ball and in the field. Keeps the scoreboard ticking with the bat, never letting the opposition settle, particularly aggressive running between the wickets, bowls with good pace, (and good seam position), and is one of the best fielders I’ve seen at Stoke. Alas I wasn’t present for either of his Stoke centuries, but I was on the field when he changed the game at Ewell with the ball last season. His three wickets in an over to help turn the match on its head, (our hosts slumped from 100 for 2 to 102 for 9 –, and was a particularly memorable moment.

I’ve never seen anyone making keeping wicket look as easy as Tom Frost does. I don’t know enough about keeping to get technical, but I never worry about edges or stumping chances not being taken when he’s behind the stumps. Also a fluent batsman with the ability to rotate the strike or hit boundaries and, (like a lot of good keepers), never short of a word or two for the opposition batters when necessary. My favourite moment of his, (a selfish one this one), was him taking a diving catch off my bowling to dismiss a certain Adrian Macarty against Magpies in 2009 – it was my 5th wicket that day. (Scorecard :

Gary Harkett is one of the most accurate bowlers I’ve seen in any form of cricket. Contrary to what he might tell you I’ve seen him bowl a mixture of seam up and cutters always on a great line and length that mean he’s very difficult for a batsman to attack. If the batsman is patient the cricket can get very boring, if not he’ll probably get out. Also a batsman with a good eye and a good pair of hands in the field. He took 7-20 on the last day of the 2008 season against Lingfield to make sure we clinched the division and promotion. (Scorecard :

Will Frost is a very different kind of slow bowler to Harkett. Willo bowls left arm orthodox spin and really gives the ball some revs. On a turning wicket he’s almost impossible to play and on a flat wicket he can keep runs down or force the batsman into a false shot. His 10-2-11-5 at Old Hamptonians in 2010 is a particular highlight. (Scorecard :

Andy Lee was something of a swing bowling mentor for me when I started at Stoke. (Seriously, if you think I can swing the ball a long way, you should have seen this guy.) Very tall, accurate and difficult to score runs off – just don’t ask him about his myriad of slower balls! He took a scarcely believable 8 for12 in a destruction of Ottershaw in 2004, including 4 wickets in 4 balls. (If you look at the scorecard – – you’ll see their skipper carried his bat for 1 – that’s a genuine carried his bat rather than one involving retiring and coming back. He just blocked every ball at my end and watched Andy’s carnage from the safety of the non-striker’s.)

Toby Tarrant takes the new ball with Andy. With his height and pace he can be difficult to get forward to and when he gets a bit of swing the wickets aren’t too far behind, especially with the slip cordon this team would throw up. (Oddly both my opening bowlers have the same birthday.) My favourite moment of his was watching from fine leg as he took the first five wickets to fall against Weybridge Vandals in 2015. (Scorecard :

So here is My Greatest XI:
1. Alistair McMillan
2. Andy Page
3. Simon Engelen
4. Shahil Ramdin
5. Will Gudgeon
6. Jason Earl
7. Tom Frost
8. Gary Harkett
9. Will Frost
10. Andy Lee
11. Toby Tarrant

If you want to offer some comment on Po’s selection, e-mail and we’ll pass them on.

Use the same e-mail address to send in your greatest Stoke XI or World XI.

Click here for other people to have sent theirs in, plus we have found people from the professional game to have selected theirs too :
Alistair McMillan 107 v Ashford - July 2016
Andy Page 91 v Old As July 2016
Cooper and Engelen
Shahil Paulie Ramdin
Will Gudgeon Square Drive by MHS
Earl Teapot
New Year 2016 Frosts
League Dinner 2017 Official - OGorman Frost Fullalove
Andy Lee
Toby Tarrant