Allan Donald was a great fast bowler who relished a battle and had the highest respect for batsmen who relished a battle too.

Donald is the latest legend to have the tough task of selecting his My Bears XI from players he played with at Warwickshire.

  1. Andy Moles
  2. Nick Knight
  3. Brian Lara
  4. Trevor Penney
  5. Dermot Reeve
  6. Roger Twose
  7. Ashley Giles
  8. Keith Piper (WK)
  9. Dougie Brown
  10. Gladstone Small
  11. Tim Munton
  12. Neil Smith
  13. Paul Smith

As a player who relished the battle, its no surprise that the first name down on his My Bears XI team sheet is Andy Moles.

“If you wanted anyone to bat for your life it would be Moler,” said Donald. “He is just a tough, tough man from Coventry and everything about him is just gutsy. Such a wonderful character.

“I loved having him in my team at Warwickshire, but I had a lot of good tussles with him too. Quite early on in our careers, he was a tough young bloke making his way in the game when I played against him for the National Defence Force XI against Griqualand West when he was their overseas player in 1985/86.

“He came out in that game, batting in a cap! He quickly reverted to a grill-less helmet because they left the pitch slightly green. He stick that lid on very quickly and the match ended in two and a bit days! 

Allan Donald

“Opening with Moler in My Bears XI, I’ll have Nick Knight. Nick batted so well for so long for the Bears and England and was a quality player in all formats. I played a lot with him and it was great to have him up there at the top of the order.

“Brian Charles Lara slots in there at number three. There is no question that he is the best batter I ever bowled to. Absolute pure genius. The shot-making, the ability to score off good balls and score his runs so quickly was just incredible. I think there are still a lot of bowlers hurting from 1994 when they had to dish it up to Brian. He was just phenomenal.

“At four, five and six, three great Bears: Trevor Penney, Dermot Reeve and Roger Twose. Trevor played so many vital innings for us and was an absolutely brilliant fielder and is a brilliant bloke. Dermot would come in at five and be my captain. He is one of the best captains I played under and I was very lucky to play with him rather than against him because he would have driven me mad. He was annoying and did it beautifully. And strategically he was as good as I’ve seen anyone because of his feel for what was coming and the subtle changes he made to get ahead of the game.

“At six is Roger who I think is the most under-rated of one-day players. When he eventually got picked for New Zealand, he showed what a wonderful cricketer he was. A really funny bloke and a guy who added value on the field in all areas. A brilliant slipper and a great gully fielder and just a gutsy trier who really believed in himself. He believed he was quicker than Brett Lee or myself! Twosey was a really fine cricketer and I don’t think he gets the accolades he deserves.”

Into the lower order of A.D’s My Bears XI, the all-rounders keep on coming…

“Ashley Giles comes in at number seven. I can’t leave out the King of Spain! A fine cricketer and I really enjoyed playing with him. We all know how well he frustrated batsmen with his left arm spin over the wicket. He did his job beautifully and scored a lot of useful runs too.

At eight, Keith Piper, simply the best keeper I ever bowled to – an absolute jewel. I was there right at the start, playing against Leicestershire 2nd XI at Grace Road, when this young kid came on trial and he took a catch off me off Tim Boon, flying high to his right in front of first slip and we just thought: ‘That’s it…this guy is the real deal’. He was a sublime gloveman and scored wonderful runs. It was such a shame he didn’t play for England.

“If you look at that five, six, seven, eight – those guys can all score hundreds.”

There won’t be quite so many hundreds from A.D’s nine, ten, 11…but plenty of wickets.

“Three more great Bears – Dougie Brown, Gladstone Small and Tim Munton,” he said, “and I know there are some fantastic cricketers like Neil Smith and Paul Smith that are not in there, so they make up the 13.

“Gladstone was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best opening partners that I ever shared the new ball with. He was effectively my bowling coach. He guided me right from the moment I got to Warwickshire in ’87. I just loved his calmness and coolness. He was absolutely awesome for me. Having him alongside me in the middle, especially in one-day cricket where I wasn’t quite sure what my plans were, was a brilliant sounding board.

Allan Donald

“Then we have Dougie – the Alloa Rocket! He didn’t bowl with express space but was there or thereabouts and was a guy who changed the course of so many matches for Warwickshire with bat and ball. He would take big wickets and score big runs in a crisis in any formats of the game.

“And then Munts. Just a colossus of a man. You plug him in at one end and say ‘see you tonight’! He bowled all day and locked people away, Shaun Pollock-like – absolutely gunbarrel straight with a little bit of shape on the ball. It was such a nice feeling to bowl with Munty at the other end, tying people up.

“He was the perfect partner on the field and, off it, Captain Sensible. What a great man…I love him to bits.”