The following England side is a collection of the not-so-good, the bad, and in the case of Martin McCague, the ugly. It’s a compilation of misfits, one-cap-wonders, has-beens, and honest county pros that should never have played for England if common sense had prevailed. In fact, you’ll barely remember some of them. So let’s take a trip down memory lane, and thank Misters Illingworth, Graveney, Miller, and Ted ‘that Martin McCaddick is a good bowler’ Dexter for giving us a few laughs over the years.
1. Tim Curtis Used to teach English at Worcester Grammar School. He was certainly taught a lesson or two by the West Indies in 1988 (5 caps, batting average 16)
2. Martin Moxon Now a career coach at Yorkshire and Durham, it’s hard to believe that Moxon once made 99 in a test against New Zealand. In the next match, he was 81no overnight at the end of the third day. Days four and five were washed out. It just wasn’t meant to be. (10 caps, batting average 28)
3. Ed Smith Good old Ed is a prolific writer and journalist. Just a shame he wasn’t so productive with the bat for England. Scored 64 in his first ever test knock, but just 23 in his next four innings. International oblivion followed. Oh dear. (3 caps, batting average 17.4)
5. Usman Afzaal After thrashing England in the 2001 Ashes, a leading Australian player commented that English players were soft because they earned fat county contracts at a young age and thought they were the dog’s b****cks despite achieving nothing. He highlighted a recent England debutant, who had turned up to the first test with a cocky relaxed attitude and an ego the size of his flashy convertible car. The cricketer in question was Usman Afzaal. Not surprisingly the fired up Aussies sent Afzaal packing. (3 caps, batting average 16.6)
6. Aftab Habib We’ve never heard of him either, but we vaguely remember a lost looking bloke representing England in two tests against the Kiwis in 1999. That must have been Habib. (2 caps, batting average 8.6)
7. Richard Blakey There were quite a few contenders for this spot, but ultimately Blakey’s test record of 2 caps, 4 innings, 7 total runs (with a high score of 6!) won the day. He also took just two catches. Will be remembered more for his autobiography, which he called Taking It From Behind, than his cricket.
8. Min Patel No, you’re probably thinking of the pie eater, this is a different Patel. Min Patel played two tests for England in 1996. He took just the one wicket. Remember who it was? Neither do we. (caps 2, bowling average 180)
9. Alan Igglesden When Igglesden walked into the England dressing room before his debut in 1989, England captain David Gower asked him who he was. Later that summer, Ted Dexter enthused about his latest new recruit, the little known ‘Malcolm Devon’. Not surprisingly, Gower had never heard of him either. (3 caps, bowling average 55)
10. Mike Smith Gloucestershire fans claim that Mike Smith’s England career would have been very different had Graham Thorpe held a simple chance to dismiss Matthew Elliott in just the third over of his solitary test appearance. Err … no it wouldn’t. (1 cap, bowling average n/a he didn’t take a wicket)
11. Darren Pattinson Miller’s folly. Former Australian grade cricketer Darren Pattinson was plucked from obscurity to play one test against South Africa at Headingly 2008. It was the archetypal ‘horses-for-courses’ selection; although the selectors failed to see that he was more of a donkey. (1 cap, bowling average 48).
Twelfth Man: Martin McCague Good old ‘Martin McCaddick’, as Ted Dexter liked to call him, was originally going to open the bowling in our starting XI. Unfortunately however, he predictably picked up an injury in the warm up.
So there you have it – England’s worst ever test XI (well, the worst since I’ve been watching cricket, anyway). It’s an XI that gives all us amateurs hope that we too might one day play for England. After all, if this lot can get a game then why not the accountants, plumbers, copywriters, lawyers, and generally overweight, uncoordinated, and unfit dogsbodies amongst us?
We’d love to hear your feedback. Can you think of any absolutely terrible players we’ve missed?