The only criteria for selection is you have had to have seen the player live in any format or level of cricket!
Alistair Cook (c) – From the minute he walked onto the pitch in India to make his debut, he looked like a batter who was born to play the game, never flustered, always calm. England’s leading male run scorer of all time and yet still underestimated by people and never gets the credit he deserves, yet he never let that bother him, he just churned out runs as a batter and wins as a captain. A phenomenal player, batter, captain and human being and anyone who didn’t have a tear in their eye as he walked off the Oval pitch for the last time having scored a century in his last innings in test cricket is a better person than me.
Marcus Trescothick – I loved watching Trescothick bat, no bowler could ever settle against him, he always looked to be positive and dominate, he gave every innings he batted an impetus with his uncomplicated approach of see ball, hit ball and was a breath of fresh air at the top of the order for England. I also admire him for his openness and honesty about his battle with anxiety and depression and the work he has done to promote positive mental health in cricket since his retirement.
Jonathon Trott – When I started selecting this team, Trott’s was the first name I wrote on my team sheet, he is my favourite batter I have ever seen play, he resilience, his belligerence and desire to score runs and not give his wicket away never ceased to amaze me. His record is phenomenal and gave stability at 3 for England that we had rarely seen before and certainly haven’t seen since. Like Trescothick I also have huge admiration for how he has spoken out with openness and honesty around his battles with his mental health and how he kept his dignity around this when faced with questions and narrow mindedness from people who quite frankly should know better.
Graham Thorpe – I’m not left handed but growing up as a cricket watcher in the 90s I wanted to bat like Graham Thorpe, the phrase “Nuggety batter” was designed with Thorpe in mind. He was so organised and compact at the crease, he never gave his wicket away, in an era of batting collapses he averaged over 44 in Test Match Cricket and was someone the team and supporters could rely on. Plus I will never forget that match in Karachi where he and Nasser won in the gloom.
Ian Bell – After selecting two compact and more defensively minded batters at 3 and 4, Ian Bell is my pick at 5, he’s a man in possession of a cover drive that makes me emit a sound close to a pre orgasmic purr, a late cut which makes me emit a sound similar to a post orgasmic ohhhhh. He is one of the classiest and prettiest looking batter’s I have ever seen and despite averaging over 42 in Test Match cricket, playing over 120 matches, he doesn’t get the respect he deserves, especially when 16 years later Shane Warne still brings up he used to call him the Sherminator and Bell just laughs about it all.
James Taylor – What a career this could have been, a career cut short by health issues robbed us all of seeing just how good James Taylor could have been in an England shirt. His desire and determination to over come peoples perceptions about his height and his ability, to prove them all wrong and make it to the heights he did gains my admiration. Plus of all the cricketers I have met in my life he is the only one who made me feel tall and he gets into this side for that alone.
Sarah Taylor (wk) – Without a doubt for me Sarah Taylor is the best pure wicket keeper I have ever seen behind the stumps, her hands are exquisite her foot movement is exemplary, the speed of everything she does behind the stumps blows my mind. Any young ‘keeper should watch Sarah keep wicket and look how she does it, and try to emulate her. The way she has broken down boundaries and changed the game by being the only female player to ever play in county second eleven cricket, now coaching in Men’s county cricket plus the way she has spoken out for mental health awareness in the game, for me she is an inspiration.
Moeen Ali – Another player who doesn’t get the respect he deserves, a World Cup winner, nearly 3,000 Test Match runs, nearly 200 test Match wickets, wrists so flexible it would appear his bones are made of playdoh, he is such an elegant and attractive batter to watch. He has batted all over the order, often to his detriment, but doesn’t complain, just gets on with it, with an unassuming quality of a player who doesn’t realise just how good he is.
Steven Finn – I promised my daughter I would put Steven in this side for her if nothing else, but actually I love Finny too. He bowls quick and was the fastest player to take 50 Test Match wickets for England, plus managed to generate a law change in cricket with his run up, how many players can say this. The way he engages with fans is what does it for me with Steven though, after my daughter wrote to him to say how excited she was that he would be playing at Derby and could she meet him, he didn’t play due to injury, yet he replied with a lovely letter and one of his England shirts signed for her and made her year and inspired a little girl to love cricket even more, you cant put a price on that.
Matthew Hoggard – I first saw Hoggy bowl in the nets at Yorkshire when I worked there in 1999 and said to a friend, Matthew Hoggard will play for England before too long, he didn’t have to wait too long as next Summer he made his Test Match debut and played a further 66 Test Matches on top of that one. In a side that boasted the pace of Harmison, Jones and Flintoff his skill level to swing the ball and offer his captain control endeared him to me and many others. Plus as one of the most genuinely intelligent and funny blokes I have ever met, he is an asset to the game and a joy to watch.
Ryan Sidebottom – Anyone who has to wait six years between test match appearances shows great resilience in the game, he never gave up the hope to play again for his country, and when he did, he never let anyone down. He won the T20 world Cup in 2010 and developed and evolved as a bowler and never stopped trying to improve. He is also such a friendly and genuine guy who always had time for fans and supporters alike, a proud Yorkshireman who has done so much to promote cricket since retiring too, has to be my final selection.