How bad were England in the Nineties?

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We’re concerned that some English people don’t fully appreciate their team’s success. Specifically, we worry that younger cricket fans don’t have perspective. We want to provide that perspective by documenting English cricket in the Nineties.

Why would we do this? Well maybe if these people can appreciate how bad the national side can be, they’ll stop whinging about boring top-order batsmen and maybe they won’t dementedly wish for closer ‘more exciting’ Test series. Winning is good. Make the most of it while it lasts.

Please send your England Nineties lowlights to and we’ll compile them into a horrific web page that should scare people into sanity. We want to create the definitive record of how bad England were back then.

Try and be specific. The devil’s in the details.

For example, between Alec Stewart’s 107 against Australia in December 1998 and Mike Atherton’s 108 against South Africa in December 1999, no English batsman scored a century. Somehow that expresses the abject misery of the period very well.

There were 35 ducks in the same period. That expresses it well too.

Pick what you like. It could be a particular delivery, a run of failures, the inevitability of a particular defeat, the agony of a breathtakingly unexpected defeat, the triumph associated with an especially narrow defeat. Anything.

We’ll try and put something up before the first Test against Pakistan. Our innate pessimism’s returned with a vengeance for this series. We want to make the most of this period of glory before it’s shat on.


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. The 3-0 whitewash in India at hands of a young Kumble while the team kept whining about bad prawns but atleast Graeme Hick saved some face.

    1. Yeah, that’s another point about the 90s. When Hick did ok, you knew we’d had it. Same with Chris Lewis.

  2. By the way on a serious note – Indians empathize most with this – 90s were our horror show too and hence the appreciation of what the team managed to achieve later given the horrific bowling limitations is worth being proud of. I’d say this is one of the finest England teams – no doubt about that bit:-)

  3. Raymond Illingworth’s selection policy. Min Patel? Ronnie Irani? Alan Wells? Gavin Hamilton? Martin McCaugue? AFTAB HABIB????????

  4. First and foremost – Ian Salisbury. Repeatedly.

    David Capel and Derek Pringle. These guys made Craig White and Ronnie Irani look good.


    Alan Wells, Aftab Habib, Rob Bailey, Matthew Maynard, Jason Gallian, Chris Adams, Steve James, Hugh Morris, Mark Lathwell – all tried, and dropped, averaged less than 20.

    Knight, Butcher and Gatting all played lots and averaged in the 20s. Creepy Crawley wasn’t much better.


    Just a constant stream of mediocrity:

    Paul Taylor, Paul Jarvis, Min Patel, Alan Igglesden, Martin McCague (nothing against Kent, honest!), Martin Bicknell, Simon Brown, Phil Newport, Mike Smith, Richard Illingworth…

    1. Some of these names are becoming very familiar to us this morning. Some were mediocre players. Some were good players treated badly. Some were lucky to get a Test. Some were unlucky to get only one Test.

      We wouldn’t brand Martin Bicknell mediocre, for example. He was a top, top bowler and really could have proven a very useful Test player in our opinion.

    2. I was just going by Bicknell’s 90s record (ave 66). He was much more successful in his 2 tests 10 years later.

      To be honest, I never knew why he didn’t get more of a chance. He was at least as worthy of a go as Tim Munton, Peter Martin, Big Al or Mark Ilott. What about horses for courses like Neil Mallender or Joey Benjamin? Ed Giddins! Chris Silverwood!

      I never knew why his brother Darren never got a chance either – or Ali Brown…

      How about Vince Wells, Ian Austin and Matthew Fleming in ODIs?

      In all honesty, the Hollioakes were a bit crap too.

      Most of those players are one or few cap wonders though – perhaps the crappiness of the 90s is better defined by how many caps (relative) mediocrities like Peter Such, Robert Croft, Chris Lewis and Mark Ealham got. That and the constant chopping and changing. Atherton and Stewart played over 90 tests in the 90s. The next highest are Hick and Thorpe in the 50s.

    3. I can remember Boycott suggesting Andy Caddick should open after some stoical rear-guard 20s against Warne etc. And I remember, even at the age of about 23, that I didn’t think that this was stupid.

    4. Croft being considered the joint-best off spinner in the world along with Saqlain because he could make the ball swerve the other way…I thought this was very, very cool. Never saw it happen though…

    5. Chris lewis constantly being rumoured to have won speed gun tests against the west indies greats.

    6. schofield went the way of the lathwell, then somehow found his way back. Fair play to him.


      The ECB destroyed these boys didn’t they?

    7. Such’s excitement when he thought he’d got a wicket (i.e. after every ball). I always dreaded the thought of him having a c + b chance.

  5. Alan Mullally batting at 9 against New Zealand at the Oval in 99. Irani – Caddick – Mullally – Tufnel – Giddins must be the worst tail in history.

    1. That’s often mentioned, but it’s particularly good when you compare it to England’s nines and tens these days.

    2. Cairns’s match.

      Daisy and I were there boys, Daisy and I were there.

      Indeed the Saturday was the first time Daisy experienced test cricket live and with hindsight I guess I’m lucky she didn’t call it quits there and then.

  6. All these names I’ve tried so hard to forget. Please please stop this, I can feel a serious relapse coming on.

    1. One more thing, Flintoff was on the telly last night talking about sportsmen and depression – what he didn’t cover was the depression the so-called sportsmen listed above engendered in the poor sods watching their less than valiant efforts. Thankfully I spent much of the 90s abroad.

  7. I know it’s just before the 90s, but how about England’s captaincy chaos in the 1988 series against the West Indies? Four captains appointed during the series(including Chris Cowdrey for crying out loud) and then, best of all, when Gooch goes off the field at the Oval, why, it’s captain number 5: Derek Pringle. You really couldn’t make it up…

  8. Gladstone Small was the only black fast bowler that didn’t scare me shitless in those days.

    The nineties may have been crap, but we always had Jack Russell’s moustache.

  9. The best leg-spinner in England was Ian Salisbury. The second best was a choice between Mike Atherton and Kim Barnett.

  10. This must be some kind of mental condition engendered by the English weather that enforces mental flagellation. You’re having such a sunny time in the cricket you’re actually digging up the past to find something painful to think about. Half of Oxford’s psych students could base their theses on this phenomena.

    Its a great time for English cricket, enjoy it! Even better for you guys, its a shite time for Australian cricket, enjoy that too!

    No need to indulge in the cricketing form of self-mutilation.

    1. I can’t cope with the good times. I am much happier wallowing in the misery of the past, when a win was a welcome surprise – and usually at the back end of a humping from Australia.

      The expectation of success – as opposed to failure – is so much harder to deal with.

      It’s difficult not having anything to moan about. Can’t even whinge about who bats No.6 these days because when Eoiyion gets in, it’s usually 900 for 4.

  11. Thank you king cricket for this opportunity to get a lot off my chest:

    1. the ‘stewart/russell’ debate, when they were the best two players we had.

    2. robin smith being mentally destroyed by warne.

    3. atherton as mcgrath’s bunny. he was also ambrose’s bunny, but the latter was far too civilized to make a point of it. he was too good a player for that sort of humiliation.

    4. the breakdown of thorpe’s marriage.

    5. (might have been early 2000s) hussein’s fixation with ‘extreme pace’ or ‘mystery spin’.

    6. ramprakash

    7. hick’s seven years or waiting, then the resultant disappointment.

    8. atherton’s puffy face as a result of the drugs he was on because collapse of his back.

    what a nightmare decade…these lost/unlucky talents who were generally treated appallingly are a worse indictment on the decade than the ‘merry go round’ of players.

  12. The worst point was when I stayed up late to watch the start of the Ashes in 1994, and for the first ball of the series Phil Defreitas bowled a long hop with Slater smacked for four in front of square. It was a certainty from that point on that we were going to get thrashed.

  13. Another one, Nasser Hussain eventually worked out how to bat after the 90s were over, but at the time the only shot he knew was guiding balls wide of the off stump through gully, often in the air. He still played dozens of tests. It was awful.

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