An unlucky 13 things that explain how bad English cricket was in the Nineties

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Mark Ramprakash (via YouTube)

England fans: You don’t know how lucky you are right now.

This is what it was like in the Nineties…

1. English batsmen who averaged over 40 during the Nineties

(The Smudge’s suggestion)

This is the FULL list.

  • Alex Tudor – 55.33 (six innings)
  • David Gower – 53
  • Graham Gooch – 51.55
  • Robin Smith – 42.62
  • Allan Lamb – 41
  • Alec Stewart – 40.80
  • Phil Newport – 40 (two innings)

See here.

2. Hick and Ramprakash

(Suggested by many people)

It’s not that they were bad. It’s that they were good. Until you put an England helmet on them.

Chris Woakes currently has a higher Test batting average than Mark Ramprakash.

3. The longest tail

Loads of people suggested this, but which tail was worse? The biggest indictment is perhaps that we have a choice.

Headingley 1993
8. Andy Caddick
9. Martin Bicknell
10. Martin McCague
11. Mark Ilott

The Oval 1999
8. Andy Caddick
9. Alan Mullally
10. Phil Tufnell
11. Ed Giddins

4. All-rounders


The desperation was such that any England bowler who owned his own cricket bat stood a chance of being considered one.

Craig White, Dominic Cork, Ronnie Irani, Phil Defreitas, Chris Lewis and so many more. Even Darren Gough was talked about as being an all-rounder for a brief period.

5. Bowlers

The Boxing Day bowling attack, Port Elizabeth, 1995: Cork, Ilott, Martin and Illingworth with a few overs from Jason Gallian. (Bradders)

Watkin, Illingworth, Irani, Silverwood, Austin, Croft, Ealham, White, Mallender, Salisbury, Munton, Jarvis, Such, McCague, Ilott, Bicknell, Watkinson, Martin, Mullally, Patel… (Joe Craig)

6. 1993 tour of India

(David Reavill)

Four seamers selected. England promptly skittled by India’s three spinners. Reselection of old and Rand-rich Gatting and Emburey.

7. World Cups

(David Reavill)

1996: Neil Smith throwing up on the pitch
1999: Getting knocked out before the official song had been released despite home advantage.

8. The Benson and Hedges World Series 1994/95

(Nick Ladner)

A one-day series featuring Australia, Australia A, England and Zimbabwe. The final was Australia v Australia A.

9. Losing 2-1 to New Zealand in 1999 to become the lowest-ranked Test side

Again, a popular choice. Also featured “Chris Cairns’s bellowing red face after that ball.” (Lisa Wallis)

10. Straw-clutching

Lev Parikian writes:

“An era defined by the straw-clutching things we used to say: ‘Well, at least Hick got 38,’ or ‘Daffy looked quite sharp’.”

See also: “Chris Lewis constantly being rumoured to have won speed gun tests against the West Indies greats.” (Pat C)

11. Win percentage


Between August 1992 and March 1994, England played 14 test matches. They won 1. They drew 1.

Between August 1995 and January 1997, England played 16 test matches. They won 1.

Between August 1998 and the end of the decade, England played 13 test matches. They won 2. They drew 4.

12. Rain

“Praying (and I mean praying) for rain to save a home Test just to save some face.” (Dandy Dan)

13. A Nineties XI

(David Reavill)

  1. Jason Gallian
  2. Mark Lathwell
  3. Alan Wells
  4. Aftab Habib
  5. Darren Maddy
  6. Ronnie Irani
  7. Richard Blakey
  8. Gavin Hamilton
  9. Ian Salisbury
  10. Neil Mallender
  11. Paul Taylor

12th man Dermot Reeve


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. Jesus – I was just saying to a mate that I’m quite nervous that never in my 30 years have we entered a test series as a number one ranked side and that fact alone makes me nervous.

    Having read that litany of awfulness I am now even more scared that we’ll lose this series and begin a rapid slide back to those depths.

    Finally I feel like a real england fan again.

    p.s. I’d forgotten Paul Taylor – he opened the bowling in my first test i’d ever seen live and even aged 11 or whatever I was i remember thinking – I thought opening bowlers should be fast!

    pps. Hick’s still my all time favourite player…

  2. Blimey O King. Next time I see a selection of tweets from you like this lot (I do take notes you know)……

    “Anyone who’s read my website for many years will remember that it was much better back when I was embittered and hated my job.

    Well, good news everybody. I bloody loathe my job right now. I can feel my body becoming distended from the excess bile even now I’m home.

    Why has no-one offered me a different job yet? It’s been almost three minutes.

    Well, anyone who wanted to hire a sociopathic pedant this evening, you’ve missed your chance. I gave you 14 minutes. Where’s your urgency?”

    …..I promise I won’t laugh – growing up with these Nineties statistics is bound to cause severe melancholia

  3. If we are talking the 90s, Ian Botham is no less shameful than those on Bert’s all-rounders list.
    Of the 40 plus average batters, half of them were actually 80s payers who were somehow still there.
    I so desperately wanted Blakey to succeed. And Paul Jarvis.
    On Bert’s win percentage, David’s IX…….
    Would you all consider me unmanned if I was seen sobbing on a train from Paddington to Maidenhead?

    1. The Smudge hasn’t gone mental. He initially posted two very similar comments. We deleted one.

    1. Oh! Graham Thorpe. You just reminded me why I stuck it through the ninties. I love Graham Thorpe.

  4. and I just stopped having the nightmares….

    Somewhere in there we should have celebrating when Fraser and Croft saved the follow on against south africa. That was my best cricket memory for the longest time.

  5. I regret being a child in the 90s. I missed all this stuff, now all I remember is a reasonably successful England team.

    Still, there’s always 06/07 to wallow in despair about.

    1. 06/07 was the duff filling in a delightful sandwich. Read the article again and learn the true meaning of despair.

    2. This is true, KC. English cricket in the 90s was despair as an art form. Take your current Australian test team – slaughtered in the Ashes, all out for 47 in SA, losing to NZ, but then demolishing India. This is a mistake. Their fans were on the point of being cast headfirst into the Slough of Despond, wherein they would have come to understand the English way of enjoying virtually everything irrespective of how well it is going. But they’ve ruined it. They’ve condemned their fans to another decade of only getting pleasure from winning, which in their case means about 30% of the time. They’re even rubbish at being rubbish.

    3. Don’t worry, Bert. Looks like you can rediscover that art form, since your batting lineup in Dubai has discovered that “batting collapse” is in it’s genes, too.

  6. Having slogged through it, the best part about being an England supporter in the 90s was that I was in Canada the whole time and therefore unable to actually watch the losses. It’s much more tolerable on the World Service.

  7. At any given point of time, there’s only one team that is allowed by the cricketing gods to be utterly abysmal – the mantle is now held by India. England have their work cut out if they are to regain the real test cricket mace – the one that says that you are now the champion fuckface.

  8. And yet… it was still arguably better than the late 80s. A post-Ashes band-wagon hopper who began watching in 1987 would see the nineties as a glorious march from abject disgrace to almost mediocre. Looked at in the proper way it is almost inspiring.

  9. Thing is though, if you go through the most capped players and come up with an England 90’s XI (6 most capped batsmen, most capped keeper, 4 most capped bowlers), it actually looks okay on paper. Talented top order, world-class keeper and some decent bowlers. Trouble is, England were never settled enough to pick a team and stick with it. It’s scary to go back and look at series and compare the team for the first test with the team for the last one. So little consistency…

    Hussain (picked ahead of Gooch because he was available for more of the 90s)

    A truly horrific tail though. Gough at 8 and then three nailed-on number 11s? Definitely 6 out, all out. Maybe bend the rules a bit and pick Daffy or Lewis ahead of Gough or Malcolm, or drop Russell for Gooch and waste Stewart’s batting by making him keep.

    Stewart as a keeper averaged 35 compared to 47 without – a loss of 12 runs from him on average, basically cancelled out by the improvement of 11 over Russell, and which ‘allowed’ us to play other successful openers like Knight, Morris, James, Maddy, Lathwell and Gallian (all of whom did no better at batting than Russell) and get lower standard keeping to boot.

    Seriously – look at England’s openers during the 90s. Scary stuff:;batting_positionval1=batting_position;class=1;filter=advanced;orderby=matches;spanmax1=01+Jan+2000;spanmin1=01+Jan+1990;spanval1=span;team=1;template=results;type=batting

  10. “A one-day series featuring Australia, Australia A, England and Zimbabwe. The final was Australia v Australia A.”

    You have to admit that that’s hilarious.

  11. Just arrived ar work England 46/5. Had to look down I check I was 15 stone not 12 1/2 to reassure myself the 90s had not returned.

    1. This isn’t quite like the 90s. Back then, an English fan would have been happy at 46 for 5 thinking, Glad we avoided the lowest test score of all times. England fighting back through Prior, Swann & co has further ruined the nostalgia.

  12. Right, here we go. Enough of the idle reminiscing, it’s time for business. Time to dust off the old bomber jacket, stick a Blur CD on, and see if the old 90s magic can still work.

    England’s last three wickets put on 98 runs, mainly thanks to Matt Prior. That is world class batting from the keeper and the tail, suggesting huge strength in the English batting line up. And if you consider that this was achieved against a bowling attack that had only recently knocked over the top seven of one of the finest batting line-ups in the world for a mere 94 runs, it only goes to show how impressive England’s batting must be. This Pakistan attack has no chance against a batting line-up like that.

    Done. And if this analysis turns out to be incorrect, we can always call on Mark Ramprakash to add middle order solidity.

  13. England in the 90s were so bad even the opposition supporters felt bad for them. As a schoolboy I had seen Hick bat beautifully in Mumbai in 1993, and then every time he made an attractive 26 I felt like crying. That meant a lot of almost-tears.

    1. Imagine if Hick had been the purest symbol of hope and what-might-be. Those almost-tears would have been made flesh.

      Huge fleshy tears, tumbling down your face, making it feel all fleshy.

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