When is an England squad not an England squad?

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This is probably the weirdest England squad we can remember. It’s not quite a B-team, but nor is it a real A-Team. It’s a 2010 cinematic rehash A-Team.

Some of the names are about as familiar as that of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson as well (the guy who was passed off as B.A. in that film). Lewis Gregory has a good record, but quite a low profile for someone just picked for England, while Zafar Ansari is best known for being a Cambridge type who once bowled Kevin Pietersen. We think we missed the bit where Ansari thrust himself into the limelight and demanded inclusion, but he did celebrate his call-up by getting himself run out off the fifth ball of Surrey’s innings today, which certainly hints that he’s got the right stuff to be an England one-day cricketer.

Most of the other additions are the players you were reading about as being potential miracle solutions back when everyone had an opinion about how rubbish England were: Sam Billings, Jason Roy, James Vince and David Willey. It’s certainly a bold, dynamic squad. A crowd-pleasing one. Or at least it is at the announcement stage.

Just three of England’s World Cup squad have been retained – James Taylor, Alex Hales and Steven Finn – and two of those are recent additions who appear rather more at home in the ‘brave new world’ circle on the Venn diagram. Set against this backdrop, Tim Bresnan suddenly appears the most leftfield pick of all.

England’s Incredible World Cup of Unparalleled Shod is just one of the reasons why there are so many surprise inclusions. There’s also the fact that it’s a one-off match scheduled when England’s Test cricketers have been playing in a match on the other side of the planet just three days before. It’s tempting to suggest that Ireland being the opposition might play a part too, but that’s probably not true. The last flicker of complacency was surely extinguished back in Australia.

England’s captain, Eoin Morgan, is missing the match to play in the IPL. It’s tempting to wonder whether this agreement has prevented him from being dropped. The Irishman seems to have benefited from extended media and public goodwill of late simply through his ability to avoid being Alastair Cook. The moral of the story is that if you’re going to be an ineffectual captain who doesn’t score runs, at least be an ineffectual captain who doesn’t score runs who bats aggressively.


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  1. During the World Cup, I was wondering if maybe England wouldn’t be better off having an entirely different limited-overs team from the Test team, rather than trying to make players play well in formats that are increasingly different. It could hardly go any worse than trying to make the one-day team look like the Test team purely for the sake of… I don’t know, making everyone briefly hate Gary Ballance?

  2. Isn’t this squad a “Combined Gentlemen and Players of the MCC” rather than “England”?

    After all, they are merely going off for a little colonial R&R with the possibility of a game of cricket when they reach their destination.

    Frankly, given the circumstances, I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t picked myself.

    1. Wonderful link, Stephen. Most enjoyable.

      I note that one of the top scorers for the Smokers was a certain Monty Bowden, who was at one-time the youngest ever test captain of England. Beyond cricket, Monty pursued an unusual career – gold prospecting and liquor smuggling in Southern Africa. He met his demise in rather pitiful-sounding circumstances in Mashonaland.


      Could this larger than life character, Monty Bowden, by any chance be related to our very own King? I think we should be told.

  3. I’m really looking forward to England finding some other way to screw up Alex Hales’ selection.

    Ask him to open the bowling maybe.

    Or perhaps they’ll hand him an Irish passport on the morning of the match and tell him he’s been loaned out on an exchange for all the sterling work the England team has done for the form of Morgan and Rankin.

    My suspicion however is that they’ll tell him it’s been called off, drive him to the airport and abandon him there. Then, when it turns out the match is going ahead they’ll call him (reverse charges obviously), tell him he’s actually playing and opening the batting but that Taylor won the toss and chose to bat first. Hales will then be forced to run to the ground, whereupon he will arrive out of breath, just to hear the ground announcer inform everyone he has been timed out.

    1. Clearly he’ll open the batting, then bat at three, then be rested, then back opening, then rested, then at six, then dropped because he hasn’t ‘delivered consistent performances’.

    2. Or they’ll just select Lexa Shale because the person in charge of the ECB Rolodex was still drunk from the night before and then wonder why they’re stuck with what looks like a scared 9 year old girl.

      A scared 9 year old girl who still has more presence of the crease than Cook had in Sri Lanka.

    3. Or Hales to bat at 11.

      When asked to comment on this odd selection, an ECB spokesman said “I shouldn’t worry. Based on recent performances we firmly expect him to only have to nurse the team through the final 45 overs or so”.

  4. According to the Beeb (no one calls the BBC ‘Auntie’ anymore, do they?), “More players will be added following selection for the third Test against West Indies on Friday”, so some of these players will presumably just be padding/makeweights.

    1. Why was the BBC ever called Auntie in the first place?

      I’m too young to remember, as Bert would no doubt point out.

  5. the BBC were great at dubious titles like Blue Peter, I think Muffin the Mule was my favourite although Capt Pugwash, a bit later, was full of naughty words.

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