Right, let’s get this over with.
First, let’s restate the qualification criteria:
- Qualified to play for England
- No established internationals
- Playing in the first division of the County Championship
Think that’s it. There might be other things. Who knows? Presumably us, but we don’t like to scrutinise the workings of our own mind in case we damage it. We reserve the right to apply further criteria later on if we feel like it.
Nick Compton, Somerset
Nick Compton was actually one to watch way back in 2007, but he didn’t really drink from the cup of runs quite as we’d predicted. We’re not entirely sure why he’s returned this year. Maybe because he’s a pretty dour batsman. In a side featuring Trescothick, Hildreth, Buttler and Kieswetter, we’re obviously going to watch the guy who inches along at 1.5 runs an over. It’s less distracting.
Steven Croft, Lancashire
We always pick at least one Lancashire player and it’s actually not because we’re biased. No, really, it isn’t. Even from an unbiased point of view we’d pick a Lancashire player each year. They just happen to have a lot of people who fit the criteria at the minute. Anyway, we’ve decided to drop Oliver Newby in the hope that this gets him back in the team and we’ve replaced him with Steven Croft who always seems to score 62 when Lancashire don’t make it to 200. This, to us, is a good sign.
Steven Davies, Surrey
Surrey like to import their players and frankly we were a bit irritated with them having kept England’s next wicketkeeper out of the first division for the last few years. Thankfully, they’ve been promoted, so we can start watching him again. Davies is a ‘one to watch’ veteran of 2008 and 2009. Both were mediocre vintages. They’ve all been mediocre vintages. That’s half the point.
Joe Denly, Middlesex
Sod it. Why not? It’s Denly or come up with someone new and you know how we feel about that kind of thing (we’ll go on the record and admit that ‘ones to watch’ selection has been a bit slapdash this year). Joe Denly’s nickname’s No Pants and he’s been one to watch before so we won’t have to remember another name. It’s good enough for us. Bit irritated about having to look for him in a different team now, but we’re sure we’ll be in the swing of things by August.
Paul Horton, Lancashire
2009, 2010 and 2011. He’s never quite made it worth our while, but our reasoning remains the same: surely someone in the Lancashire side has to score some runs sooner or later. We’re still pretty sure that Paul Horton’s most likely.
Simon Kerrigan, Lancashire
Yes, okay, it’s another Lancastrian, but come on – he’s worth watching. You know what? We don’t care anyway. It’s our website. You want to spend your time squinting to make out the stumpy figure of James Taylor along with everyone else, be our guest. Pretty sure there’ll be plenty of fawning articles peppered with the word ‘class’ to keep you occupied all summer long. We’ll be watching Simon Kerrigan taking stacks of wickets for the second XI while Gary Keedy whirdles away for another season. And yes, ‘whirdles’ is a word. Okay, maybe it isn’t. We’re just getting a bit snappy and defensive. Sorry, we don’t mean it. Well, we do a bit, but it’s not you specifically. We’re just a bit tired and irritable and we haven’t eaten for a few hours and we get tetchy when our blood sugar’s low.
Ben Stokes, Durham
Best crack on, eh? Nearly there. We said Ben Stokes would be fully amazing last year. And he was. Then he played for England and he wasn’t. We haven’t actually asked anyone about this, but we’re pretty sure everyone thinks he’s rubbish now. He isn’t. Watch. Unless he’s rubbish, in which case don’t.
The end. Thank God that’s over.