Thursday, 15 February 2007

The Ones Who Got Away

Consistent and planned are not two words that could ever be used to describe England’s One Day selection, which is strange considering the success that approach has had with the test team. Since England’s last trip to the West Indies just three winters ago, around 40 players have donned the blue pyjamas. This is the squad of fifteen that didn’t make it.

Marcus Trescothick – By far and away the biggest loss to the World Cup squad. A shoe-in for England’s best One Day team of all time. 12 hundreds and an average of nearly 40 at an astonishing strike rate of 85 per hundred balls. Without his stress related illness, the debate over Mal Loye would be superfluous. With his stress related illness, England’s task has become much harder.

Matt Prior – Included as a batsman, because that’s how he’s played most of his International cricket. A destructive batsman for Sussex, he couldn’t bring that form to the International arena failing to pass 50 in 12 attempts. Still in the frame when the wicket-keeping position is discussed and it would be a surprise if he isn’t given another chance.

Vikram Solanki – Here’s an odd one. Over fifty games for England without ever looking like a regular. Even his two centuries (only Pietersen, Flintoff and now Collingwood have more in the current squad) only ever hinted at what might be rather than looking like the catalyst for a real breakthrough. Admittedly he wasn’t helped by the ill-fated substitute rule, or batting at anywhere from 1 to 9 is a terrible batting line up, but a measure of how far his star has fallen is that no-one even considered him in contention for the World Cup.

Anthony McGrath – Also never in contention for the World Cup, and some would wonder why he played for England at all. Fourteen ODIs (and that’s 14 more than Mark Butcher) with an average of 16 and a strike rate of less than 50, his debut performance of 33 runs in 75 balls should have been a giveaway. As an “all-rounder” he bowled less than 3 overs per match.

Owais Shah – Made a promising ODI debut in 2001, and has played just 17 matches since. Badly used by England after his debut, his perceived lack of ability in the field may have counted against him during the Fletcher years. Still scoring healthily for Middlesex.

Michael Yardy – Genuine all-rounder as no-one really knew if he was a batsman or a bowler. The figures would suggest the latter, despite him batting at number 4. English conditions suited his bowling. However, subcontinent and the Champions trophy didn’t and off he went.

Rikki Clarke – A two ball duck in his debut, a golden duck in his last game, England have tried and tried to convince that Rikki Clarke is the answer to our one day problems. A bit like Yardy in that no-one really knows if he’s principally a batsman or a bowler, and with a batting average of 11 (strike rate just 62) and bowling average of 37 (economy over 5) he’s not good enough at either discipline.

Alex Loudon – Selected for the ODI squad in 2006 possibly because he can bowl a doosra, he played one game, was run out without scoring and bowled six overs going for a run a ball (reasonable in the context of the game, but crucially not as good as Jamie Dalrymple). By the end of the 2006 season, he was struggling to stay in the Warwickshire team.

Chris Read – The man who murdered Duncan Fletcher’s favourite dog. Surely that is the only explanation for his treatment at the hands of the England selectors over the past few years. A contender for best wicket-keeper in world cricket and an unorthodox batsman. His best series was in the WI last time England toured with two cameos of 20+ to see England home.

Geraint Jones – It all started so well. Brought in on the back of his superior batting, he started at 3 in the batting line up and was also used as a pinch hitting opener. However, he eventually found his place at 7 and when his Test match form became untenable even for Duncan Fletcher, he disappeared from the One Day scene as well.

Tim Bresnan – Injuries cost him his chance to come back from the debacle of the Sri Lanka series and at still only 21 (despite having been in the Yorkshire team for 5 years) he should get more chances. Currently scoring and conceding runs at over one a ball in International cricket.

Steve Harmison – England’s best ODI bowler for a number of years, he seems to have been more mentally scarred than most following the Sri Lankan demolition of last year. The three-fors in the first two matches were forgotten with the 0-97 in the final game. Confidence gone, Harmison retired from ODI cricket after the Champions trophy a pale shadow of the match winning bowler seen two years previously.

Kabir Ali – A promising start away to South Africa where he played in all seven matches of the 04/05 series taking 13 wickets, he was then dropped for a year. Always expensive, the latest nail in his international coffin came at the hands of the Sri Lankans. Six overs for 72 runs and back to Worcestershire.

Alex Wharf – Another wonderful example of England’s selection policy. A regular for 6 months two years ago, he played 13 matches in five months, taking 18 wickets at an economy of just over four…..and hasn’t been seen again since.

Darren Gough – No shortage of self-belief and England’s leading ODI wicket taker. Despite lobbying and the support of Graham Gooch, Dazzler’s dream of one more World Cup didn’t come true. Last seen playing beach cricket, a career in show business beckons.


Tim said...

Vrey good piece; I particularly agree with your assesment of Owais Shah, who should be a regular in the ODI side.

Richard Lake said...

Thanks Tim - I enjoyed researching it. I'm not sure if Shah should be a regular in the team. The fact that he's been overtaken by two of his team-mates at Middlesex does tell a story. However, I do believe he should have been given more of a chance. Comparing his opportunities to Solanki's, the games played seems to be the wrong way round.

allrounder said...

Nice summary, Richard; but surely there's a glaring ommission in Ian Blackwell? With thirty four caps over the last three years, he could shore up your lower-middle order a treat... Or, er, maybe not, I suppose.

Richard Lake said...


You're right about Blackwell and his ability with bat, ball and in the field would certainly make all the difference to this team. Actually, if he'd not been injured, I suspect he would have made the squad ahead of Bopara.

The difficulty was keeping it down to a squad of 15. Also missing are players like Hoggard, Giles (who I would have taken) and Simon Jones, who like Blackwell. missed out due to injury. Although, having said that, I did include Trescothick...

Whinging Pom said...

A good piece. Disagree with a few of the players in there, but I suppose it was hard trying to make up the numbers, especially if you weren't taking injured players. But an overall strong 15.

I would have put in Blackwell and I see no Mal Loye or Staurt Broad. They were two I would have put in. Also, no Ramprakash or Butcher (Butcher has never worn the pjamas - but he should have).

Just a few ideas. I shoudn't think you'd agree!

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