Who are England’s best bowlers at the moment?

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Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan come in. One’s already done well, but wouldn’t it be nice if they were clearly – CLEARLY – the best men for the job? The truth is everyone’s mostly just hoping for the best.

This has long been the problem with English cricket. There are too many counties and too many matches. It’s impossible to see it all and gauge who the very best players are. The upshot is there’s a general consensus that a bowler maybe, possibly, probably deserves a go and then we all cross our fingers and see how things pan out.

In an ideal world, a member of the Test team gets injured and everyone knows who should replace them. In the real world, everyone can name six players who could potentially do the job. Whoever does play gets a few matches to prove or disprove their worth and they either earn a longer trial period or we’re back where we started.

James Anderson is England’s first-choice pace bowler and he was dropped four Tests ago. Just who are England’s best bowlers at the moment? Here are some names. Can we quickly and easily agree on which ones are the best? Can we hell.

  • James Anderson
  • Stuart Broad
  • Graham Onions
  • Tim Bresnan
  • Andrew Flintoff
  • Steve Harmison
  • Ryan Sidebottom
  • Amjad Khan
  • Matthew Hoggard
  • Simon Jones
  • Sajid Mahmood
  • Mark Davies

All those players have their respective supporters and detractors and all stand a half decent chance of playing Test cricket in the not so distant future, injuries permitting. Then there are a whole host of other names who are but a few good matches away from joining them.

There are too many names. We don’t believe it’s a case of them all being roughly as good as each other. We reckon it’s a case of no-one being able to clearly identify those best-suited to Test cricket without actually putting the players into that environment. Really, you should have a good idea long before then.


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


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  1. We knew someone was going to point that out.

    That’s a worryingly convincing email address attached to that comment, by the way.

  2. I don’t think ANYONE apart from everyones favourite Sarah will admit to supporting Mr Khan. Since his debut of Pattinson shaming oddness he’s played precisely ZERO games for Kent, about as many as he’d played the 3 months before…

  3. Struck me as odd that Bresnan didn’t bowl in the first innings today. There are just four innings before the Ashes to find the saviours of English bowling, and Bresnan already missed out on 25% of those… daft.

  4. did you seriously say, in your ideal world, people get injured! i would hate to see your rubbish world! secondly, on your list i notice… hoggard, jones, flintoff and harmison…. with a bowling line up like that, england are sure to win the ashes… any chance ashley giles can come out of the international wilderness?

  5. The problem of too many counties is not just that you can’t keep track of bowlers. A few years ago, Major League Baseball introduced four new teams. Immediately, three batters broke a fifty-year-old season home run record. The reason was that adding four teams doesn’t increase the number of high quality pitchers – by definition there were pitchers playing MLB who wouldn’t previously have got a game.

    Even if all else were equal, two out of every three batsmen in county cricket wouldn’t get a game in any other country, there being three times as many opportunities (teams) here. This is the main reason that we can’t assess bowlers – who really knows what a county five-fer actually means. The division thing was supposed to fix this, but it only works if all (all) the best players resign from the second division and go to play for counties in the first.

  6. Would you have Woakes in the “host of other names who are but a few good matches away” group? Haven’t seen enough of him myself yet but people seem to be getting pretty excited about the guy.

    If he is good enough I’d like to see him given a chance early. I felt the selectors waited 6-12 months too long before putting Broad in the test side, and Rashid should have been played in at least one international match of some format over the winter, especially after Swanny went to get his elbow sorted out.

  7. The two tier structure has helped, to a degree, but you still have too much dross at county level. Sadly, we need to regionalise in the 4 day format.
    After lengthy midnight discussions with a former flatmate, we decided that we’d create 4 regions. Each region plays home and away, so 6 games each. 3 need to be in the spring, before the tests, 2 between the test series, and one after. There could then be a play-off between 1st and 2nd. List A matches can remain with counties, and can fit around this.

  8. A regional system with a playoff at the end of the year?

    That sounds way too australian


  9. Are you suggesting a cull? That would make things simpler. Or maybe some cricketers could be rehoused on an island somewhere, like those hedgehogs in the Outer Hebrides.

  10. I’d say Broad, Flintoff, Harmison, Hoggard and Anderson should be your top five, screw the rest. Harmison COULD still amount to something. I wonder what someone like say Shane Warne could get out of him. Anderson does not (and never will, probably) convince me about his ability to lead an attack – which he should be doing, because he has the weapons. Always going to be an inconsistent performer. Broad of course could be big. But more than his bowling I’m interested to see how his batting develops, he’s one of the cleanest strikers (or sweetest timers, whichever) around. That shot off his hips is seriously something.

    Flintoff… who knows? Let him exhaust whatever he still has.

    Hoggy is great.

  11. To be fair, Bert, was the homer bonanza not at least in part to do with the batters in question being juiced to the gills?

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