The only criteria for selection is you have had to have seen the player live in any format or level of cricket!
As with most picks of this kind, some are straightforward, and some aren’t. Even though you don’t know them personally, it still tugs at the heartstrings of any cricket lover to have to scrap the likes of Freddie Flintoff out of any England X1 of the modern era that you’ve actually seen. I say modern because I’m still very young! Anyway, here goes.
Andrew Strauss – Captain, my captain. Full disclosure here. I actually know Straussy, so I couldn’t leave him out. But, what a record. His 48% win percentage as the captain made him the obvious choice for the top job too. Not the most gifted but the most hard-working and one of the smartest cricketers ever to have played for England.
Sir Alastair Cook – One of a few players who could easily make a ‘World Greatest XI’. His average for an opener is simply ridiculous, and he’s still churning out the runs for Essex today; quite remarkable.
Ian Bell – The man I’d have paid good money to watch bat in my back garden. Elegant, sophisticated, classy. Set his best shots to a backdrop of Mozart music, and they wouldn’t look out of place. The fact that England dropped him still goes down as one of the worst decisions of the modern era. My natural number 3.
Joe Root – When the cricket history books are written, Root may go down as one of the greatest to have played the game. He’s also now showing some of the specialist spinners around the world how to take wickets! One of the top batsmen in the world. Enough said.
Kevin Pietersen – ‘You can’t pick KP Garry because of his antics off the field, and you’ve got Straussy as captain! Ridiculous. You have to pick him because the guy was a GENIUS, and he was Box Office. Leaders need to manage difficult people, particularly if they can plant Brett Lee into the members stand at Lord’s like they were facing me. Have a word with yourself, Straussy.
Paul Collingwood – England’s best ever fielder and a street fighter. He’s the man I’d want coming in at 40 for 4. The greatest compliment I can pay Paul Collingwood is that I’ve picked him ahead of Freddie Flintoff.
Ollie Pope – I’d have Ollie as the wicketkeeper/batsman. Shock. But he’s never had the gloves for England, Garry. I don’t care. He’s one of the most exciting talents in world cricket today, and his keeping is under-utilised at every level. His rise has been meteoric and will continue to be so.
Jack Leach – My luxury pick, but I owe him for giving me one of the great sporting afternoons of my life. The most important 1 run ever. So, Jack, it’s payback time. You’re in my all-time X1.
9,10,11 was easy. Broad, Anderson, Archer – The Broad and Anderson partnership is the best to ever play for England. Their stats need no introduction, their partnership needs no further praise, and I’m one of the millions who marvel at the ever-green nature of their careers; simply outstanding. And then there’s Jofra. A better bowling average than Broad and is capable of bowling 95mph. We’ve got the fear factor back, and here’s praying that the elbow isn’t career-threatening.
And finally, here’s to the extraordinary ones who didn’t make the cut. Stokes, Trott, Flintoff, Botham, Harmison, Gower and Willis. All players that I’ve had the immense pleasure of watching. Sorry boys but thanks for the memories.