Thursday, October 28, 2010

My 11 best players from England


1.Alan Knott: This selection might cause a bit of a stir as being number one.Though I counter by saying that Knott is arguable the best wicket keeper in the games history and how important are keepers to their teams success? In my time of viewing him in the County scene for Kent and for England I cant for the life of me remember him missing a chance.Even when standing up to the stumps on wet pitches to Underwood's violently cuttings left arm liquorice all sorts delivered at near medium pace.He is to keeper's what Bradman was to batsmen.Also don't take that testimony as his only gift in the game.He was a very tough and accomplished batsman who when England were in trouble always rose to the occasion.

2.Fred Trueman.This great man was an English hero much in the manner of Bobby Charlton and the rest of the 1966 World Cup winning team in football.As a fast bowler he had it all,pace,menace,swing,seam and a lovely bit of nastiness! He held the wickets record in tests with 309 for a while and was widely regarded as one of the best pacemen in the history of the game.Though after thrilling us all on the field with his play he captured the imagination of the cricket World after with his dulcit Yorkshire tones in the commentary box.For which in truth for legend. He in my humble opinion ranks along side the icons of commentary like Richie Benaud and Tony Cosier.Sadly in 2006 he passed draping England and the rest of the cricket World in black through mourning.

3.Ken Barrington.This fine batsman and team mate of Trueman was to batting what Fred was to bowling.In one word he was exceptional! He wasn't a pretty player to watch being more of a stonewaller, but by word was he effective.In my opinion the most underatted player in the last 50 years. If not in the games history.Im not one for figures but this tells a compelling tale.He averaged 58 for his career which was truly elite,but away from home he averaged near 70! Now can anyone name another player who has done that over such a long career as Barrington? For I can't think of one.Like Trueman he was adored in England and the greater cricket World and when he died in the Caribbean serving as England team manager. Such was the distress to the England players and the respect they had for this fine man.That they were seriously considering cancelling the tour!

4.Derek Underwood.This great left arm spinner/cutter bowler in my mind was one of the most underatted bowlers in the games history.He mixed between traditional orthodox and faster cutters depending on the situation and on wet pitches or in truth any pitch he was true to his nickname 'Deadly' He missed a good slice of the prime of his career due to involvement in Packer's World Series Cricket,but if he didn't lose those years in his prime.In my humble opinion he would have ended his career with over 400 test scalps.His partnership with Knott at Kent in the County scene and for England was the stuff of legend.

5.Sir Ian Botham.If there was a bigger draw card in the game in the 80's than Botham and his Somerset team mate Sir Viv Richards please show me.Granted Imran Khan but sadly Pakistan never got much exposure.In his career he had that undeniable and rare touch of magic.Whether it be a brilliant bowling spell,or brutal batting display or a catch that made you rub your eyes. For you though you were dreaming it.In the 1981 Ashes he was truly exceptional with bat and ball and in the field.In the history of the game can't think of many more dominating roles in a series in an all round capacity than that one.Whatever way you look at it 'Beefy' was a true legend of the game

6.Geoff Boycott.TECHNIQUE...TECHNIQUE...AND IN CASE YOU DIDN'T HEAR ME TECHNIQUE! This great Yorkshire opening batsman was the pin up boy for all the cricket purists around the globe. Who saw that defence was the first and foremost thing in batting.In truth if he didn't exile himself for three years between 74-77 over not being offered the England captaincy. He would have almost certainly been the first to the 10000 run mark.For powers of concerntration,toughness and an impenetrable defence you can't go past Boycott.A truly great and like a few previous underatted player

7.Ted Dexter.The next two are the true artists of the game.Starting with the delightful stroke player in Ted Dexter.His game was built on technique, but when he wanted to he could truly savage the bowlers like no others.His brutal driving was akin to Tiger Woods with a golf club.His pre lunch salvo against a few not too dusty quicks in a certain Charlie Griffith and Wes Hall in 1963 was a sight to behold or hear on the BBC in my case! Even in the County scene when Underwood was cutting a scathe for Kent he was one of the few who mastered him.

8.David Gower.Like Dexter,Gower was a true artist of a batsman.To watch him was to be like on your veranda on a balmy summers eve and indulging in a very fine cognac.So very very smooth....This in truth takes away from the fact that he was a very fine batsmen.In the best in the proud heritage of English cricket to be truthful.Some of his innings were both breath taking and knee buckling for the opposition.The 85 Ashes at Birmingham where he hit a dominant and majestic 215 instantly comes to mind.He played how he lived with such a free spirited care free attitude that in truth we can all learn from.For his only thought was to entertain rather than rack up figures like some in the game especially now

9.Bob Willis.This fine gent was a very fine bowler indeed.Like other great fast bowlers he had pace,guile,swing,seam and could be nice and nasty when in the mood.He in truth was one of the best in England's history and though the 81 Ashes belong to Botham. Few give Willis the dues he deserves.The miracle at Headingly wouldn't have happened if Willis hadn't of been a buzz saw through the Aussies in the fourth innings with 8/43 duly winning the game for England by 18 runs.Thus tying the series 1 all and with all the momentum in England's favour.They duly went on to swamp the devastated Aussies 3/1 with Willis netting 29 scalps in the 6 match series at a tick under 23

10.Mike Brearley.His place in this list is not to do with his play for in truth he was an average player at best,but more to do with his astute leadership.Few in the games history have captained better than Brearley with his tactics being so astute.Though this was the lesser of his gifts.His man management skills in terms of motivating his players was truly the stuff of legend.Just listen to Ian Botham talk about him....

11.John Snow.Nasty,Nasty boy was this delightfully unhinged fast bowler! He was truly a few tiles short of a roof on a cricket field, but in the late 60's and 70's was comparable to any quick in the game! His performance in the 67/8 series in the Caribbean were truly elite.Even in Kingston in the 2nd test.In truth a game better remembered for a breathtaking Sobers unbeaten century on a minefield pitch in the 3rd innings.Also sadly crowd behaviour leading to tear gas being deployed. He was brutal.He ran through a very decent West Indian line up getting 7/49 in the first innings.In that series alone he was truly elite getting 27 wickets in the 4 match at just under 19 a scalp,thus  leading to an English series win.Sadly though the ECB are a prim and proper group and saw him as 'difficult'. Thus only permitting him 49 tests.In truth if he was an Aussie. He'd have played double this number and been picked up and driven to the ground.After his career he brought out books on poetry!


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