Favourite England XI
The only criteria for selection is you have had to have seen the player live in a Test match
Alastair Cook - The recently written platitudes speak for themselves. It was a pleasure and and privilege to watch his maiden century - on debut at Nagpur - before meeting him a few days later on the eve of the Mohali Test, back in 2006. An honourable and decent captain who did not deserve the abuse he received over the KP saga, led by chief Troll Piers Moron. Arise Sir Cookie!
Andrew Strauss - Another gent of the modern era. With his trademark clip off the pads for four or indeed a pull to the boundary, I witnessed Strauss score many a fine knock both home and abroad. A true leader of men who has recently had to cut his ties with England, having suffered tragedy. Hopefully this will only be a temporary parting of company.
Jonathan Trott - Mr reliable who has never really been replaced, despite what Joe Root would have you believe! He became a firm favourite whilst I had the pleasure of seeing his maiden century on debut, against the SDs at the Oval in 2009.
Graham Thorpe - The man that KP ousted for the 2005 Ashes tour, Thorpey was a much loved player in the early nouties. Who can forget his 113* at Colombo in 2001 and of course his steering home England in the dark of Karachi, after Inzis poor gamesmanship.
Kevin Pietersen - One of the most unlikeable blokes to have ever pulled on the Test shirt, KP was however one of the finest players I have witnessed, personal memories include his 151 at The Pizza Hut stadium Colombo, 2012 , his 158 against the SDs in the unlooseable match at Adelaide 2006, to his 158 (again against the SDs) at the Oval in 2005. Shame he was - in his own words - such a doos!
Paul Collingwood - A truly great all rounder. From his sublime catch during the Bristol ODI in 2005, his batting saved us on so many occasions.
Ben Foakes - A wild card but perhaps a nod to the future and one of approval to the new selection policy. Foakes’ innings and glove-work in Galle saved England from certain capitulation on Day 1 and turned England towards victory for the 1st time at this wonderful ground, probably the last time time we’ll play there. A win at Galle set up the trip to Kandy and - rare series win in Asia.
Graeme Swann - A natural entertainer on and off the the field and not just his performance on Strictly! From 10 wicket hauls in NZ to 4-87 in the 2nd innings of the the Lords Ashes Test match in 2009, Swann was England’s go to man for over half a decade! Seeing him “tear the Saffas apart” in 2009, a personal highlight!
Simon Jones - One of the great tragedies of the modern era is how little we actually saw of ‘Jones the Steam’. An horrific injury in Brisbane 2003, ensured he never delivered on his full potential. His 5-44 at Trent Bridge in 2005 sticks long in the - very beer affected and hazy - memory!
James Anderson - A master in home conditions, despite being largely anonymous abroad, it would be difficult not to include Jimmy in this XI. His 7-43 against the Kiwis at TB a personal favourite of mine. A likeable character off the pitch, despite his gruff northern exterior, he will be a tricky one to replace at the end of this forthcoming Ashes series.
Steve Harmison - More super size then Super Steve Harmy these days, but back in his prime he was truly devastating. His 7-12 in the Caribbean and drawing Punters blood at Lords, the highlights! Can’t watch his first ball in Brisbane ‘06 in the same light, having viewed the recent Al Jaz documentary. Still, he might shift some weight breaking rocks and he always looked good in his beloved black and white stripes!