James Anderson knows the rules

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< 1 minute read

We saw an article titled ‘Anderson wants to captain England’ and we immediately thought: ‘He’ll be lucky’.

We thought this for the exact same reasons that Anderson himself thought it:

“As a fast bowler and from the North, I suppose I’m very unlikely to get a look in.”

This is painfully true. There is a hierarchy of suitability for the position of England captain. If you can’t find someone who fits your first choice description, you move down to the next best. It runs like this:

  1. Public school educated southern batsman
  2. Southern batsman
  3. Public school educated northern batsman
  4. Northern batsman
  5. South African batsman
  6. Southern bowler
  7. Northern bowler

In reality, England never make it anywhere near the bottom of that list, so there might be a few other possibilities in there too. Anderson is probably less likely to be made England captain than Graeme Swann’s left batting pad, but he may just about rank above Matt Prior’s jockstrap.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. Jimmy, Jimmy, be careful what you wish for. 4 days in, it’s 35 degrees, there’s no swing, you’re being carted by Boucher, staring down an innings defeat and all you’ve got to look forward to is Aggers close of play piece, “How you feeling after that abysmal display you massive pussy?”

    I’d rather be a jock strap.

  2. I feel a list coming on. I like lists.

    England Cricket Captains (appointed, not stand-ins) from 1950 in reverse chronological order (with King Cricket’s Captain Categorisation Number in brackets)

    Strauss (5) – Alright ,1 as well.
    Pietersen (5)
    Flintoff (7, 4)
    Vaughan (4)
    Hussein (1)
    Atherton (3)
    Stewart (2)
    Gooch (2)
    Gatting (2)
    Gower (1)
    Willis (6, 7)
    Botham (2, 4, 6, 7)
    Brearley (1)
    Greig (5)
    Denness (4)
    Illingworth (4, 7)
    Smith (1)
    Dexter (1)
    Cowdrey (1)
    May (1)
    Hutton (4)

    A quick analysis reveals that had James Anderson been bowling in the 50s and 60s, he would indeed have had no chance, even if he had been born in Buckingham Palace. Illingworth is the first bowler on the list from anywhere, but he managed to back it up with being more of a batsman. Botham is next and similar – you have to wait for Willis to find a proper bowler as captain, then Flintoff, another all-rounder.

    (Note that all four of these “bowlers” were born in the north, even if some of them were kidnapped to the south quite soon afterwards. This is because bowling requires effort.)

    It is true that Public School Educated Southern Batsmen form the largest group in the list, with eight members. Southern batsmen who went to oiky comps were popular in the 80s.

    If you are generous, and allow the four “northern” all-rounders to count as 7s, then the worst represented section of society is the Northern Public School Educated Batsman, of which there was only one who became England captain. This is a disgrace.

    What do we want?
    More Northern Public School Educated Batsman allowed into positions of seniority on the test cricket pitches of England.
    When do we want it?

  3. Athers went to Manchester Grammar. So he’s a 4, isn’t he? That makes Northern Public School Educated Batsmen-Captains even rarer.

  4. What about Chris Cowdrey!?

    You missed him out – he was a Northern bowler.

    Oh. Hang on…

  5. Manchester Grammar is a fee-paying school. Don’t you go criticising my List. It took literally lots of my employer’s valuable time to compile.

  6. Can we extrapolate from that list what the next captain is most likely to be?

    After Smith it seems to meander slowly upwards (that phrase might not make sense) , then gets snapped down again at Gower. It’s meandered along upwards again, has it just snapped down? Will we have two decades of 1’s and 2’s?

    Extrapolate. That’s a good word.

  7. Bert – apologies. They clearly play a bit fast-and-loose with the term “grammar school” in the county of Lancashire.

    Maybe that kind of sneaky underhandedness is what prevents most Lancastrians from being chosen as England captains.

  8. Wasn’t John Emburey (6) also appointed captain in 1988? I’m not sure your employer has got their money’s worth with this list…

  9. thesaurusrus – MJK

    Jay – I thought Lamb was only a stand-in, never appointed – like Butch and Tres.

    Brian Close (4) and Tony Lewis (1? 2?) appear to be missing, though. Think Boycott (4) was official captain for a bit as well – it wasn’t all stand-in for Brearley, IIRC.

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