England’s Best Ever XI Revisited

It was my tenth wedding anniversary at the weekend, so my Mrs and I took a trip down memory lane and stayed at the hotel where we got married. “That’s all very well” you might say “but on earth has this got to do with cricket”? It’s because the one thing I controlled at the wedding (us blokes are usually allowed one thing) was the table plan design for the wedding breakfast. And being a certified cricket tragic I named the tables after players. My theme was “England’s best all time XI” although in reality it was the best XI since I started watching cricket circa 1986. I decided I could only judge players I’d seen with my own eyes.

As I was sitting with a beer waiting for my wife to do her hair – being as bald as a coot I don’t have that problem – I decided to reflect on my XI and consider how much it would’ve changed over the last ten years. Which recent players would force their way into the squad of 13 and who would make way? Overall, I decided that I’d make just three changes. See if you can guess who they are …

My original squad selected in May 2008:

Gooch

Vaughan (capt)

Gower

Thorpe

Pietersen

Stewart (wk)

Botham

Flintoff

Gough

Fraser

Panesar

Reserves – Mike Atherton, Jack Russell

It’s important to note that I selected each player based on what he was like at his peak (pre-injuries etc). Michael Vaughan was therefore selected on the basis of that golden period he enjoyed just before he became captain. I still maintain that his performance down under in the 2002/03 Ashes was the best I’ve ever seen an England player bat. He absolutely destroyed the likes of McGrath, Gillespie and Warne at their peak. Similarly, I chose Angus Fraser because he was one hell of a bowler before his hip injury cost him that ‘nip’.

I said above that I’d make 3 replacements to my marital squad. However, only two of these would be dead certs to make the starting XI. And I think they’re obvious choices: Graeme Swann would come in for Monty and Jimmy Anderson would replace Gus in the bowling attack. I’ve been more and more impressed with Anderson over the years and after taking 500+ test wickets in an era when bats are thicker, pitches seem flatter, and batting averages are higher, I think Jimmy has clearly earned his stripes.

The final change, and I haven’t decided whether he’d make the final XI yet, is Joe Root for Mike Atherton. I rate Root highly but is he better than Gower, Thorpe, and Pietersen? Hmmm. It’s pretty close. The first two scored their runs against some formidable opponents and KP was the closest thing we’ve had to a genius. Root is clearly bloody good, and he might in time surpass the gnarled old pros currently clinging to their places, but for now he’ll have to wait patiently on the bench.

The other recent contenders I seriously considered were Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad. In the end, however, I decided that although Cook’s longevity is seriously impressive, he doesn’t quite have the technique (nor the performances against top class pace attacks) to thrive at an ‘all-time XI’ level. I’d seriously worry about his ability to deal with Lillee and Thompson, for example, if my team ever came up against an historic Aussie team. Ahem.

When it comes to Broady, again I just don’t think he’s quite up there. He’s been an excellent servant to English cricket, and he’s obviously rampant when he gets into one of his match-winning spells, but there have also been times when he’s operated around 82 mph and looked pretty toothless. Personally, I feel that a pace attack of Gough, Jimmy, Beefy, and Freddie covers most bases and this quartet is more likely to make things happen on flat pitches.

My current squad – and I think this will be fun to update over the years – is therefore as follows:

1. Gooch

2. Vaughan (capt)

3. Gower

4. Thorpe

5. Pietersen

6. Stewart (wk)

7. Botham

8. Fintoff

9. Swann

10. Gough

11. Anderson

Reserves: Root, Russell.

I’d be interested to know what you all make of my team. I guess some of you might want to use the second reserve spot to include a personal favourite. However, I’ve stuck with Jack Russell because he gave me so much pleasure over the years. His batting was quirky and combative (albeit nowhere near in the same class as someone like Matt Prior) but I can’t remember him dropping many catches, and I think it’s important to have a pure keeper in the squad. Snaffling chances is absolutely vital at an ‘all-time XI’ level. You don’t want to give the likes of Sir Viv and Lara second lives!

James Morgan

2018-05-30T15:21:23+00:00 May 30th, 2018|Nostalgia|65 Comments

65 Comments

  1. BobW May 30, 2018 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    This could run for ever and ever. But for me. I’d have Knott as my keeper (I’m a little bit older than you!)
    I’d put Stewart in place of Gooch who I felt was found wanting by the likes of Hadlee and Alderman all to easily.
    Underwood would be my spinner. Left arm variation and lethal with Knott behind the stumps.
    I’d put KP up one to split the left handers coming in.
    Willis for Gough as well. More bounce and he’d get that new ball seaming into the batsman nicely.
    For Anderson the jury is still out for me. HIs natural length just frustrates me but may be he’d be a good foil to Botham who is naturally more attacking.

    • James May 31, 2018 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      I’d certainly have Gooch (and quite possibly Robin Smith) in my team if it was against the WI side i did below.

  2. Rupert Collier May 30, 2018 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Definitely have to have the specialists in an all-time XI, you shouldn’t need too many runs from the tail with that batting line-up!

    Probably need to find room for Buttler somewhere though 😉

    • James Morgan May 30, 2018 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      I did think about picking Jos as a wind up 🙂

  3. Chris May 30, 2018 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Who is this chap at 8 – never heard of him!

    • James Morgan May 30, 2018 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      Freddie has lost a lot of weight … and an L

    • Tom Stanfield May 31, 2018 at 6:47 pm - Reply

      You must remember Feddie…

  4. muffin May 30, 2018 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    I’m prejudiced, but I wouldn’t have Gower anywhere near my best ever. My abiding memory of him is him standing flat-footed and squirting the ball to gully (time after time after time). How about Dexter instead (I’m obviously older than you too!)
    Looks like a good bowling attack. Of course Anderson should be included. I watched a bit of a repeat when the cricket was washed out yesterday, and noted that he played in the same one-day side as Caddick and White – I wouldn’t have guessed that they overlapped.

  5. James May 30, 2018 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    I’ve been watching cricket since about 1968. I reckon this West Indies team on the same basis is pretty good. Greenidge Haynes Richardson Richards Lara Sobers Dujon Marshall Holding Garner Ambrose. Ouch!

    • James Morgan May 30, 2018 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Blimey that’s a good team. It might beat any team one could put together … from all countries combined!

      • James May 30, 2018 at 7:13 pm - Reply

        Ok. Let’s try (same basis all other countries). Hayden Langer Ponting Sachin Javed Miandad Gilchrist Imran Hadlee Akram Warne Lillee. Twelfth man McGrath or Kallis. I reckon they would give that WI team a game.

        • StephenFH May 31, 2018 at 5:18 pm - Reply

          Barry Richards to open, having seen both BA and IVA for aura and natural ability equals or something very much like it is how they were thought about at the time. There are questions without answers as to how good Barry would have been in a full test career, but he was in The Don’s 20c XI iirc.

      • James May 30, 2018 at 7:30 pm - Reply

        The first “test” match I saw live was at Lord’s. 1970 England v Rest of the World. Quite similar to the recent debacle. England batted first under cloudy skies. Sobers swung it round corners and England got rolled cheaply. RoW had a top class batting line up (middle order of Pollock Lloyd and Sobers, Procter at 9). I went on day 2 when Sobers got 180 odd. So that’s how I fell in love with test cricket. And you can’t argue with that!

        • John May 30, 2018 at 7:51 pm - Reply

          Sobers played in the first Test I saw also, and I’ve never forgotten it. He was already a legend and to see him come down the Pavilion steps, collar up, that sort of lope to the wicket with the top of his pads flapping – you couldn’t quite believe it. He looked completely relaxed, totally at ease with himself in front of a packed ground, even stopping for a joke with two of the England fielders on his way to the wicket – and a century!
          The greates cricketer I ever saw.

          • James May 31, 2018 at 1:39 pm - Reply

            He’d probably just got to the ground from a night out!

            • John May 31, 2018 at 3:28 pm - Reply

              I doubt it – this was at Headingley !!!

  6. Keith Burley May 30, 2018 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    If you go back further in time, there are many more who would be considered.
    I can think of PBH (May) to the unitiated, Graveney, Cowdrey, Tyson, Trueman, Statham

    I certainly agree that Knott is the best I’ve seen.

    As someone said it could go on ad infinitum

    • muffin May 30, 2018 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      Technically Russell was just about flawless, but Knott was the better bat.
      I’d quite like to see Trescothick in the side – one of the most entertaining batsmen we have had.

    • James May 30, 2018 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      If you’re looking at an all time team you definitely want Hobbs to open with Hutton or Sutcliffe.

  7. SaxophoneAlex May 30, 2018 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    I started watching in the early 1970s. My best ever XI from these last nearly 50 years would be…

    1.Boycott
    2.Vaughan (captain)
    3. Thorpe
    4. Gower
    5.Pietersen
    6.Botham
    7.Flintoff
    8.Knott (wk)
    9.Swann.
    10.Willis
    11.Anderson

  8. Bob Bayliss May 30, 2018 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    I would want John Edrich to open on any day with a ‘y’ in it.

  9. oreston May 30, 2018 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Showing my age, but I’d definitely prefer Willis to Gough (though that’s harsh on Darren who was a great player too). It’s a little easier to say that I’d rather have Underwood in the team than Swann. Swann was very good for a few seasons but Deadly was the real deal and remains by a mile England’s best tweaker since Laker. If we’re going with specialists (how many more all rounders do we need with Beefy and Freddy in the team?) then Alan Knott, the non pareil of wicket keepers, unfortunately has to edge out Alec Stewart. A magician behind the stumps, Knott was nonetheless a good enough bat to score five Test centuries and made a lot of important runs down the order. The almost telepathic keeper/bowler understanding he had with his Kent team mate Derek Underwood is the other reason why he has to make the all time XI.

  10. muffin May 30, 2018 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Underwood was only “deadly” on uncovered wet pitches. He was pretty ineffective on dry turners. They used to say that they took Underwood like an umbrella – “in case in rained”.

    • oreston May 30, 2018 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      86 Tests, 297 wickets at 25.83. Still England’s sixth highest Test wicket taker (with one or two of those above him having played significantly more games) and the highest placed spinner on the list. He must’ve played on an awful lot of uncovered wet pitches 🙂
      By comparison, Swann – good plsyer though he was – lacked longevity at the highest level (yes, I know he had injury issues towards the end) and finished with an average only fractionally under 30.

      • muffin May 30, 2018 at 7:29 pm - Reply

        Well, yes, he did have the advantage of uncovered wet pitches a lot!

        • oreston May 30, 2018 at 8:02 pm - Reply

          Got any actual data on that? How many of his England bowling performances were on actual literally wet (as opposed to merely uncovered) wickets? Sure, I recall as a child it being said that Underwood was particularly good on a “drying” wicket, but he was hardly useless elsewhere. You might just as well say that Anderson only swings the ball under overcast skies or recall his poor over all record in Australian conditions. Does that mean he shouldn’t be in the team?

    • Simon H May 30, 2018 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      “Underwood was only “deadly” on uncovered wet pitches. He was pretty ineffective on dry turners”.

      Have a look at his record on the ’76/77 tour of India – do you think those were wet pitches or he was pretty ineffective?

    • John May 31, 2018 at 9:19 am - Reply

      muffin
      With all due respect, that’s nonsense. Yes, he was unplayable on helpful pitches but for much of his Test career wickets were covered to a greater or lesser extent.Certainly the four successive years when he was officially the world’s best bowler were in the covered era. I saw him play in bone dry conditions both in India and Australia where he was very effective, not least in keeping an end tight when we only had one quick. He was an intelligent and analytical cricketer who adapted his style to the conditions. In India and Australia he bowled noticeably flatter and slightly faster, pushing it through rather than giving it air. I think you are being unfair to him !

  11. Ben May 30, 2018 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Worryingly I only have 2000 onwards to work with, this is who i’d pick though:

    Trescothick
    Vaughan (Captain)
    Thorpe
    Pietersen
    Root
    Stewart (Keeper)
    Flintoff
    Swann
    Broad
    Simon Jones
    Anderson

    Positions 3-5 might need to be re-ordered (maybe Atherton opens and Vaughan moves down?). Also i’m relying on getting Simon Jones before his body fell apart! Failing that, Hoggard probably deserves the call, but I like the idea of Sidebottom in as a left armer.

  12. Tom Moore May 30, 2018 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    1984 onwards

    Gooch
    Vaughan
    Stewart
    Gower
    Pietersen
    Botham
    Flintoff
    Russell (wk)
    Swann
    Anderson
    Gough

    Fraser
    Bairstow

    Stewart averages 46 purely as a batsman

  13. John May 30, 2018 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Has everyone forgotten Harnison ? At his peak, which admittedly didn’t last long, he was the only natural genuine fast bowler we had had for years and very effective. Much though I admire Jimmy I would pick Harmison (and peak form Jones) before him if the series you have in mind is in Australia, SA or the WI.
    I agree with the point about splitting the left handers by moving KP up the order, and would certainly include Gower – no English batsman of the era gave so much visual pleasure. Sticking to your brief there’s little to argue with, but seeing that West Indes equivalent makes my blood run cold, not least just thinking about who is left out ! You could pick a second Eleven which would have given most sides of that era a run for their money!

    • James May 31, 2018 at 9:53 am - Reply

      I’ve just had a quick go at the WI 2nd XI (1968 on). What do you think? Fredericks Gayle Kanhai Rowe Gomes Lloyd (c) Deryck Murray (w) Roberts Walsh Croft Patterson. Bit more of a tail than the previous version, and slightly less batting authority. Still a terrifying fast bowling attack. You can play with this a fair amount. Consider this team (an all time Barbados XI): Greenidge,Haynes, Hunte, Worrell (c) Weekes, Walcott (w) Sobers Marshall, Hall Griffiths Garner. Now, i didn’t see all of these guys play, but that’s one hell of a contribution to cricket for an island with a population the size of Leicester. And, by the way, if you think Griffiths is a “chucker”, I’ll put Sylvester Clarke in as my 4th seamer.

      • John May 31, 2018 at 3:30 pm - Reply

        Again, I wouldn’t argue strongly against any of these selections. What an embarrassment of riches they had – makes the current state of WI cricket even sadder when you look at these lists. I’m glad that you have included Kanhai and Murray who in the original I would have included for Richardson and Dujon – I loved Murray’s stylish keeping and had a particular appreciation of Kanhai having seen him ‘serve his time’ at Club level before he went to Warwickshire. Sticking only to players I saw, although I might be outside of your 1968 on time scale, I would certainly have tried to have found places for Butcher, Weekes (only ever hit one 6 in Test cricket – ‘we were taught not to put the ball in the air’ !) and Gibbs, although I accept that with attacks like that why bother with a spinner? Although Hall (instead of Croft maybe ?)had a beautiful action and Griffith didn’t, I never thought he was a chucker. To me, he fell away sharply in the delivery stride but his arm at the point of delivery was both vertical and straight, which was all the Laws required in those days.

      • StephenFH May 31, 2018 at 4:53 pm - Reply

        Alvin Kallicharran was great to watch, would find a place for him somewhere in the middle order.

        • John May 31, 2018 at 7:08 pm - Reply

          Yes, good point : I’d forgotten about him but definitely worth a place.

  14. Cricketcricketcricket May 30, 2018 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    From my limited time

    Strauss
    Cook
    Trott
    Kp
    Root
    Bell
    Flintoff
    Prior
    Swann
    Simon jones
    Harmison

    Sorry, root and Trott.. you’ll have to get through a few overs to rest the quicks

  15. Rooto May 30, 2018 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    You’ve more or less got my XI there James. Amazing to think that only 10 years ago, Swann wasn’t yet an established player. And he retired nearly 5 years ago! It’s not often that one thinks ‘was it only that long ago?’. Normally it’s the opposite!

  16. AndyB May 30, 2018 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Based only on the criteria of judging them at their best and only considering those who were playing FC (but not necessarily test) cricket in 1986 or later;

    Amiss (who retired in ’87) for Vaughan. I am judging Amiss on 2 innings; the incredible 262 not out to save the 1974 Kingston test against the Windies when the next highest England score in that second innings was 28. Possibly the greatest match saving innings of all time. And his 203 at the Oval in 1976 against the strongest Windies attack of all, despite having made fundamental technical changes. Not one innings of Vaughan (or Gooch or Boycott) comes close to those 2 performances.

    Hoggard for Flintoff. We do not need an all rounder at 8 with the batting above. Flintoff is a luxury like Stokes – turns up occasionally. Hoggard provided a degree of control invaluable at test level.

    On the grounds that he kept in the 1986 NZ test as a substitute from the hospitality suite, I will put Bob Taylor on the subs bench in place of Jack Russell. Brearley saw them both, and Knott, and rated Taylor easily the best gloveman (but Knott the best all round selection). And since there is a batting sub we should also have a bowler on the bench. Mine is John Lever, because he is a leftie for variation and probably the most underrated test bowler in my time. I saw him play for Old England circa 2000 and he seemed as good as ever even at 50.

    It is also worth noting that before his injury, which had a similar effect as that of Gus Fraser, Richard Ellison was a far superior bowler of that type. Unfortunately he got too few tests before his injury problem.

    • John May 31, 2018 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Amiss, like Gooch, deserves great credit for going back to his County and working on – and in his case radically changing – his technique having been found wanting at the highest level and then returning to play successfully at that level.

    • John May 31, 2018 at 11:07 am - Reply

      I remember Brearley saying that Taylor’s glovework was so smooth that when you were fielding at slip when he was keeping, you barely heard the ball as it entered the his gloves.

  17. Marc Evans May 30, 2018 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    A lot depends on your age here. Do you believe great players would be great in any era or do you judge by stats and quality of opposition.
    For fellow oldies reading this, who have been watching since the 60’s when there were uncovered wickets and no white ball distractions, there are bound to be many alternatives.
    The most obvious being ; Boycott, Erdrich, Graveney, Barrington, Cowdrey, Close, Knott, D’Oliveira, Illingworth and Truman, whom I only saw at the end of his career when he had lost his nip. All of the above had more reliable techniques and temperaments than the modern players, not having to adapt from red to white ball.
    Of course the geriatrics who remember the 50’s with Hutton, Bailey, Laker, Lock Truman, Statham, Bedser and Evans will find even more alternatives.
    What I will say is that the all rounders were in short supply, so Botham and Flintoff, by sheer force of their personality might push their way in, but aside from that I cannot think of any from your era James, with the possible exception of Peterson if you value a mercurial match winner in your side. Sorry.

    • AndyB May 30, 2018 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      I suspect we are a similar age. I remember the first group and Trueman and Evans playing for the Cavaliers. Barrington was the most underrated test bat of all. But I must add John Snow to the list. A great bowler, with the streak of meanness which made even the Australians afraid. He was another I saw play for Old England (with Lever) when he must have been 60 – and the action was still instantly recognisable.

      • david thomas May 31, 2018 at 1:19 am - Reply

        Finally some-one remembers Snow. He was brilliant on the tour down under in 1970-71. (“When he loped in to bowl he wore malevolence like Mandrake wore a cloak.”) And if it rained he could entertain the troops with his poetry. It’s also nice to see Barrington get a mention – his name rarely comes up in discussions about England greats.

        • Marc Evans May 31, 2018 at 2:04 am - Reply

          The problem with Snow for me was consistency. At his best he was capable of troubling the best, but his fragile temperament meant he was equally capable of bowling ‘I don’t give a damn’ rubbish.. Illingworth certainly found him a difficult man to manage. However he did win us a a series in Oz. What England bowler has done that since?
          Thinking on those lines I guess Tyson could have made the list, bit his career was short. Of all England’s quickies since my favourite was Simon Jones. A ‘what might of been’ cricketer, he certainly had the ‘X’ factor, just as dangerous with old ball as the new, though he always seemed to be an afterthought for Vaughan, but to my mind at his best was at least as good as Flintoff or Anderson at their best. Once he was on a roll he was unstoppable.

          • david thomas May 31, 2018 at 4:13 am - Reply

            The 70 / 71 tour was the only time I saw Snow bowl “live” so I’m a bit biased. If he hadn’t got injured, I believe Jones would have had an amazing career.

          • AndyB May 31, 2018 at 7:51 am - Reply

            Fragile is the wrong word for John Snow’s temperament. He had a personality of steel, did not abide fools gladly and regarded captains as an unnecessary luxury. Put that up against the ‘do not question my decisions’ attitude of Illingworth and it was incendiary. And that was what made him so good in the Ashes – reacting to the right captain, and to a cheating umpire in Lou Rowan in that case. Snow was only ever inconsistent when it suited him and if he decided not to perform – then the captain did not know how to handle him and should be blamed.

            • Marc Evans May 31, 2018 at 10:30 am - Reply

              Fragile in terms of self discipline he certainly was. If you are a true professional you don’t operate on the freedom without responsibility code that Snow seemed to be prone to when asked to do something he didn’t agree with. Cricket is supposed to be a team game, he was never a team player.

              • AndyB May 31, 2018 at 5:03 pm

                But on that basis Sid Barnes would get nowhere near the England All-time XI despite there being what seems universal agreement that he was the best bowler ever. Sometimes you have to put up with the diva mentality and select the captain who can manage it.

              • Marc's Evans June 1, 2018 at 11:29 am

                There are many difficult temperaments to manage, and undoubtedly Barnes would be one of them, like most quickies, but Snow is the only one I have heard of who would switch off and sulk. I cannot think of any captain worth his salt who would have much truck with that attitude in any sport.
                A captain has to deal with the big picture in a way no other player does, so on balance you should always trust a captain’s judgement above your own. Illingworth was respected and competent, but a product of his time, where people did not question decisions in the cavalier way they do today, so he was never going to be dictated to.
                Brearley’s dealing with Botham was a breeze by comparison, as no one ever accused him of not trying.

        • James May 31, 2018 at 1:48 pm - Reply

          David: spot on about Barrington. He’s 8th on the all time test average list (with at least 20 completed innings). 82 tests and an average of 58.67. Not the prettiest to watch, but very difficult to remove.

        • oreston May 31, 2018 at 5:03 pm - Reply

          I saw Snow, just the once, playing in the Sunday league for Warwickshire in 1980, right at the end of his professional playing career. Not the bowler he had been by that point – and probably not the best way to form an opinion of him – but I’m certainly aware of him and as a kid saw him on TV playing in a few tests during the ’70s. He’s not a forgotten player at all and was self-evidently England’s best fast bowler between Trueman and Willis. Question is, if you’re going to pick an outright quick for England’s greatest all time XI, is it really going to be Jon Snow as opposed to one of those others I’ve just mentioned, or even Harold Larwood? (There are a few other contenders.) You might make a case for him at his late ’60s/early ’70s peak but it’s not a clear cut choice in view of the competition.

          • muffin June 1, 2018 at 10:42 am - Reply

            By coincidence, a clue in today’s Guardian crossword was:
            English bowler won by some top spinning (4)

  18. Duggers Dugdale May 30, 2018 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    Amongst the ‘keepers union’ of which I am a long time member, I’m pretty sure that Jack Russell is agreed to be the best keeper by far. Alex Stewart was still learning to keep when he retired! But Stewart’s batting must get him in the side as a specialist batsman purely for the belligerence he inherited from his dad!

  19. Simon H May 30, 2018 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    Ed Smith’s Best Ever England XI:

    1. Cook
    2. Roger Federer
    3. A philosopher you’ve never heard of.
    4. Whoever wrote ‘Moneyball’.
    5. Stokes
    6. Buttler (c)
    7. Whoever The Economist picked a while back.
    8. A batsman
    9. Another batsman
    10. Ano… Broad
    11. Jimmy

    • Gareth May 31, 2018 at 8:38 am - Reply

      12th man – Ed Smith

  20. Doug M May 31, 2018 at 5:58 am - Reply

    Largely agree, but Swann and Anderson are miserable gits and Underwood or Edmunds and Willis would be my choice. Difficult one really.

  21. Comte May 31, 2018 at 7:42 am - Reply

    My experience goes back a long way, but not enough to include Hutton. I’ve omitted people who, having retired, turned into R Soles. Here we go:

    Boycott
    Trescothick
    Barrington
    Gower
    Graveney (Tom)
    Greig (Tony) – capt
    Knott
    Trueman
    Snow
    Underwood
    Anderson

    Just missed the cut: Amiss, Bell, Godfrey Evans, Ray Illlingworth, Simon Jones

  22. Dave May 31, 2018 at 8:38 am - Reply

    If you are going on players at their peaks then Harmison has to be in. At his best he was absolutely unplayable.

    Going back a couple of days, I think the bad Harmison should probably be in your worst ever England XI as well.

  23. Mark Eldridge May 31, 2018 at 9:19 am - Reply

    I fear I go back further than anyone so far. From those I have seen play I would chose the following.

    England:

    Boycott
    Gooch
    Cowdrey
    Gower
    Pietersen
    Botham
    Knott
    Trueman
    Laker
    Underwood
    Tyson

    RoW

    Richards BA
    Greenidge
    Richards IVA
    Tendulkar
    De Villiers
    Sobers
    Gilchrist
    Hadlee
    Wasim
    Warner
    McGrath

    I was fortunate enough to be at the Oval when Trueman took his 300th wicket (Boycott and Cowdrey also played, the latter catching Neil Hawke)). Barry Richards was simply the most complete and captivating batsman of his generation in my totally immodest opinion! Mind you Viv was pretty magnicent, too.

    • James May 31, 2018 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      Mark I take it “Warner” is Warne? I think I watched cricket from a similar time (I can recall watching Richards and Greenidge open together for Hants). You’ve got 4 cracking specialist bowlers in there, but you can’t have a “best of” XI without including Malcolm Marshall! Probably for Hadlee. I’d also go Ambrose for McGrath (though that one’s close).

    • AndyB May 31, 2018 at 5:06 pm - Reply

      I have to disagree about de Villiers, great player though he is. In my XI he loses his place to his old countryman, Graeme Pollock. I agree that Richards was wonderful, but many rated Pollock even higher.

      • John May 31, 2018 at 7:14 pm - Reply

        Boycott rated Pollock 6 of those he’d had seen, after Sobers, Richards, Lara, Tendulkar and Chappell.

    • John June 1, 2018 at 6:53 am - Reply

      Some side that ! I should have loved to have seen Laker at one and Underwood at the other !

  24. Giles Falconer May 31, 2018 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    OK, here’s my choice of the best from my lifetime:

    1. Boycott
    2. Gooch
    3. May*
    4. Barrington
    5. Pieterson
    6. Botham
    7. Knott+
    8. Swann
    9. Snow
    10. Underwood
    11. Anderson

    12th Man: Alan Ealham

    Assuming we are playing in England! If in Australia maybe Willis for Anderson…

    And the best of the ROW:

    1. Greenidge
    2. Richards (BA)
    3. Pollock (R)
    4. Richards (IVA)*
    5. Lara
    6. Sobers
    7. Gilchrist+
    8. Warne
    9. Hadlee (R)
    10. Lillee
    11. McGrath

    12th Man: Jonty Rhodes

    I’d pay good money to see a game between these teams!

  25. Ab May 31, 2018 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Since 1990, and based on peak performance against great opposition over several years.

    Gooch
    Trescothick
    Smith
    Pietersen
    Thorpe
    Stewart
    Flintoff
    Swann
    Gough
    Fraser
    Anderson

    On peak performance over a single series, Vaughan and Jones would get in.

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