Pick the team you would support the most: The Realm’s England XI

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It’s time for another Sim Series. We’re going to do something a little more personal this time. We’re not going to pick the best possible England team. We’re going to pick an XI comprising the England players we liked the most.

Actually that’s not 100 per cent accurate. We’re going to pick the players we felt most strongly about; the players who we invested in the most.

Investing in someone isn’t quite the same as liking them. We really, really liked Andy Caddick, for example, because he bowled incredible deliveries. We liked him because of what he did, but we didn’t necessarily feel any particular desperation for him to do well in advance of any given Test match.

That’s the thing. That’s the thing we’re looking for.

Everyone has players they latch onto for some reason or other. At the time these obsessions are just a normal and logical part of your life, but it’s interesting to look back on these one-sided relationships later. Maybe if you put them in order and compare them, they say something about you and the more sophisticated way you’ve come to see the world as the years have gone by.

Or maybe they do the opposite. Maybe they highlight the fact that you haven’t grown at all. Maybe they show that you’ve gone from picking your favourite XI in the pub to picking your favourite XI on a website prefaced with a couple of who-are-you-kidding sentences that give the reader a faint sense that some sort of deeper analysis about the human condition is going on when it quite obviously isn’t.

Minor point about the selection process: we haven’t given it much thought. This is deliberate because we felt like this was the best way of coming up with the right set of names.

  1. Mike Atherton
  2. Marcus Trescothick
  3. Rob Key
  4. Graeme Hick
  5. Paul Collingwood
  6. Andy Flintoff
  7. Matt Prior
  8. Darren Gough
  9. Steve Harmison
  10. James Anderson
  11. Monty Panesar

To maximise excitement, this team obviously has to play against the team we would least want them to play against: The Antagonists XI.

And this is how it panned out


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. Moeen Ali
    Mark Wood
    That’s all I’ve got actually. Comes with being a relatively new convert to the sport I suppose.

    I’m guessing Rob Key will be the first name on the Kingdom’s team sheet.

    1. Well we’re doing it in batting order, so no. Suppose he did open though.

  2. I remember investing huge amounts of faith in Graeme Hick. He was churning out huge amounts of county runs whilst he was waiting to qualify for England (and churned out tons more after his Eng career), but never made it as an Eng player. I was there at The Oval when he took Tendulkar’s wicket though!

  3. I like this one. My first thoughts below, on a Smudge Invested XI

    Chris Broad
    Martin Moxon (C)
    Kevin Pieterson
    Paul Collingwood
    Ben Stokes
    Rickard Blakey (wk)
    Moeen Ali
    Hedley Verity
    Darren Gough
    Neil Foster
    Paul Jarvis

    12th man Andrew Flintoff (in for Moeen based on conditions)

    It has been interesting examining the thought process of being “invested”. There is a natural bias towards Yorkshire when I was a youth, but it is also interesting that there a a few players in there who I think are actually a bit of a nob, but I’m invested in them anyway.

    I suspect only Colly of my team has much chance of making the final XI.

    1. Verity? If we’re having people you got invested in after they were dead I’m sticking Harold Gimblett in there up top.

      Or perhaps you’re older than your election photos suggest.

      1. I do have pictures of me standing against Alec Douglas-Home. He still had his box in so I was going to use it for a future “gear in unusual places” submissions. At least I hope it is his box.

  4. By the way, this is a beautifully pitched article KC. This only semi-rational “investment” in individuals is a colossal part of following cricket. You get and articulate stuff like this. Not many do. That’s part of why I keep coming back.

  5. Do you have to like the opposition too? That would make it pretty tricky for any Aussie players from the last 20 years or so to qualify…

    1. Our team is blokes only because we’ll be using the team on Cricket Captain. Sarah Taylor would be in there otherwise.

  6. Stuart Broad is absolutely needed.
    Without him there is no point in doing this.

    1. If it were a Watchable XI, or an Entertaining XI definitely. But it isn’t.

  7. Trescothickhick
    Mooen ali
    Chris read

  8. They better not be playing a team of players we would all support the least, that will mainly be annoyingly good Australians, who will inevitably grind out a soulless win against England’s team of wayward geniuses, cult heroes and just-happy-to-be-playing-a-Test lovely county journeymen.

    The thought of Hayden smashing Panesar for 25 in an over is already starting to bother me…

  9. Here’s mine:

    Butcher (c)
    Nixon (w/k) (unless I have to pick someone who actually played a Test, in which case Russell)

  10. It’s an interesting idea. Once you’ve made the semi-rational decision to favour a particular player, it’s the threat of them getting dropped that adds the spice and makes you really care about how they do in a match. But investing in a player necessarily takes time, I think.

    So I would think that your XI will mostly be made up of players that were, or seemed to be, on the fringes of the squad, but somehow managed to stick around for a long time. That’s certainly the pattern for the players I’ve cared the most about doing well.

    And Collingwood is a great example. Many reasons to like him as a player, but nearly every test innings felt like it could have been his last.

  11. Lathwell
    Grace (capt.)
    Pope (wkt.)
    Simon Jones

    Three complete failures and three who died before I was born. Sounds about right.

  12. David Gower – even I was 8 or 9 I could recognise the ethereal beauty of his play.

    For some reason, Norman Cowans is also on my list. Perhaps because he seemed quite young and maybe not quite good enough for Test cricket. And poor old Syd Lawrence, though sadly after that injury it was a case of being invested in him getting through county games unscathed. I have quite vivid memories of watching the highlighted of that game against NZ when he shattered his knee-cap – awful.

    1. Had Slane been born in another era, he’d have played 50 Tests at least.

      They still talk about him coming round the wicket up in the Lancashire leagues.

  13. Picking this as fast as I can write it, which seems fitting.

    Vinod Kambli
    Matthew Horne
    David Gower
    Douglas Jardine (c)
    Robin Smith
    Ben Stokes
    Jack Russell
    Shahid Afridi
    Graeme Dilley
    Shoaib Akhtar
    SF Barnes
    Harold Larwood

    I really thought Horne was the real thing, and felt real pain every time he failed. I’m not a Kiwi, and have no idea why.

    Dilley is the reason I had a ludicrously curved run up until my knees gave out.

    1. Ha! I picked 12. Seems absolutely right. Drop Stokes then, that would unbalance it best.

  14. All very semi – rational : Liked /felt / invested in/One for your ‘cricketers spotted’ too – I came across an utterly glum Gautam Gambhir at a Holi party in 2007… I knew he could be gold. I sidled up next to him by the poolside, bright sunshine, asked him wassup – I think I had a positively transformative influence on the guy. I told him to chill out, that he had all the shots, all he had to do was believe. After a 10 minute chat, he nodded, and was then pretty much man of the match at that year’s 2007 World T20 final, superb batsman through 08 and 09, and at 2011 ODI world cup final. GG remains one of those for me; in India’s golden 7, he was the 7th.

    1. Both of us had ridiculously Holi coloured faces… Additional colour in an already colourful story 🙂

  15. My Full Member XI (a true World XI would have Dwayne Leverock in it):

    Nick Compton
    Kraigg Brathwaite
    Kane Williamson
    Mominul Haque
    Shai Hope
    Kevin O’Brien
    BJ Watling
    Moeen Ali
    Rangana Herath
    Steven Finn
    Trent Boult

  16. I think this is my very recent eleven:

    Rory Burns
    Haseeb Hameed
    Jonathan Trott
    Gary Ballance
    Paul Collingwood (c)
    Ben Foakes (wk)
    Moeen Ali
    Sam Curran
    Ollie Rayner
    Mark Wood
    Chris Rushworth

    Three Surrey players. Send help.

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