England’s worst ever XI

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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)

4. Darren Maddy Not the prettiest batsman to have played the game. Missed the entire 2009 season with injury. The result? Warwickshire got promoted. (3 caps, batting average 11.5)

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 Asian guy 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. Stop sniggering at the back please.

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 we’ve been watching cricket, anyway). Can you think of anybody we’ve missed? And how do you think they would fare against Bangladesh? Whisper it quietly, but the Tigers might actually win against this lot.

James Morgan

38 comments

  • Plenty of competition here, but personally I’d find room for Paul Terry. The first test match I ever saw was at Old Trafford 1984 against the West Indians. He was out there for about 10 minutes before getting his arm broken by Winston Davis and never played for England again. (2 tests, batting average 5.3).

  • Difficult to top, though you’ve not picked a coin-flipper. How about a pre-test trial match against this lot?

    1. John Stephenson (1 test, av 18)
    2. Hugh Morris (3 tests, av 19)
    3. Mark Lathwell (2 tests, av 19.5)
    4. Alan Wells (1 test, av 3)
    5. Chris Adams (5 tests, av 13, wkts 1)
    6. Chris Cowdrey (captain) (6 tests, av 14, wkts 4)
    7. Adam Hollioake (4 tests, av 10, wkts 2)
    8. Chris Read (15 tests, av 19)
    9. Chris Schofield (2 tests, av 22, wkts 0)
    10. Chris Silverwood (6 tests, av 7, wkts 11)
    11. Ed Giddins (4 tests, av 7, wkts 12)
    12th men:
    Dermot Reeve (3 tests, av 25, wkts 2) in case one of the new Botham’s breaks down on eve of match. Gareth Batty (7 tests, av 20.5, wkts 11) in case we need a second shite slow option.

    Question: Is ‘Chris’ the most cursed name in tests?

    • Chris Adams is an excellent shout. However, any truly terrible side must feature not just those with poor stats but also those who inspire poverty in their fellows. Any suggestions for who would make the perfect morale sapper?

  • Might be coming to this a bit late – but how about Scottish turned English turned Scottish again Gavin Hamilton. Made one test appearance as a supposed “all-rounder” – got a pair and didn’t take a wicket. I think that makes him the only test player to never get on the scoreboard…

  • Many months have past since we originally wrote this. We’d like to apologise to Geraint Jones. Surely Richard Blakey was a lot worse! Forgot about him.

  • I realise I’m pretty late to the party on this one, but my first priority is to defend RJ Blakey, any stumper who pens a book called “Taking It From Behind” is OK with me.

    For your consideration I’d like to offer former Derbyshire man John Morris. His average of 23 from 3 caps is bolstered by a retired hurt and a not out. If these figures in themselves are not weighty enough credentials, I hold him complicit in the ultimate demise of David Gower. By willingly co-piloting Lubo on his Tiger Moth mission rather than suggesting that their time might be better spent in less Gooch-vexing pursuits such as nets, press ups or triathalons he ensured that both his own and Gower’s (rather more glittering) career crash landed.

    I could be wrong but I seem to recall that he bowled the delivery that saw Brian Charles Lara over the 500 run line in his monumental 501 N.O.

  • Jeff. I love the way you’ve picked 3 off spinners. Your team really would be the worst of all time. Would Bopara take the new ball?!

  • Oh yeah just put ask the British Asians in there why don’t you

    Racist… Typical Brit.. No wonder nobody can’t stand British folks anymore

    • Two british asians. Two. Out of eleven. Both of whom have had pretty crap test careers. Picked two who started off at lancashire two, is he discriminating against lankys too? You fucking helmet.

    • It has to be said that British Asian cricketers on the whole have under performed at Test level in comparison to their county careers. It has been commented on by the British Asian community itself. It is too do with attitude. Don’t blame the system – IT IS NOT RACIST.
      However I accept that we must not stereotype – many white players have also underperformed. However as an example just look at the wasted talent / potential that is / was Adil Rashid at Yorkshire. The lad was a fantastic leg spinner at U19 level but what happened – he became satisfied with what he had and did not want to move out of the comfortable cultural circle that is his background. Big fish in small local pond syndrome.
      However there are some British Asian players who I believe have been harshly treated; Vikram Solanki was a wonderful batsman and if only Samit Patel could sort out his fitness he should make the ODI team.

  • What about Bopara – not even the best allrounder in Essex (Napier) and Moeen he isn’t a spinner and he a batsman so why is he playing for England?

  • Oh and what about Warren Hegg – good county pro but should never have played Test cricket. Chris Read was streets ahead at the time.
    I would also suggest Mark Butcher was lucky to get the opportunities he did – perhaps playing for Surrey and being Stewart’s mate helped? I can only recall 1 good innings (v Aus at Headingley) and now Sky treat him as some sort of guru. Oh dear.

    • Bit harsh on Bopara – 3 test hundreds and an average over 30, not great but not in Alan Wells or Aftab Habib territory.

      What about Mark Lathwell to open the batting. Paul Taylor got to be worth a shout for the bowling lineup as well?

  • Afzaal is the absolute prime choice for this team. The ultimate flash Harry, Billy Bigboots with no substance or indeed style. An empty vessel who had too much money far too soon.

  • How about a combined worst journalist/England bowling attack:

    Derek Pringle, Mike Selvey and Aggers. Pringle boosts the average of course, but retains a special place in my heart as the first new Botham.

  • I’ve a soft spot for the Ians: Gould, Greig (the second or third new Botham) and Salisbury. You could name a worst XI of new Bothams:

    Pringle, Ian Greig, Chris Cowdrey, Lewis, Dermot Reeve, Capel, Gavin Stevenson, Anthony McGrath, Craig White, Ronnie Irani and Mark Ealham.

  • What’s Ed Smith doing in this XI?

    He looked great on debut and then got a couple of poor decisions in his final four Test innings’.

    His county record suggests he was never going to have a great Test career but he was probably dropped too soon and certainly doesn’t deserve to be called one of the worst batsmen to play for England!

  • Having seen what Lehmann has done with the Aussies by getting rid of homework and telling th baddies they have ONE more chance – I’d say, get Gillespie in now. He won’t be tugging the forelock to the bosses at the ECB – he’ll just change the mentality as he obviously has done at Yorkshire. Think he might actually get some support from Colin Graves.

  • Animal Shazhad, James Tredwell. Two of the worst recent picks bit now somehow back on the england radar after a good second team stint. Also applies to liam Plunkett

  • Such a rich vein here 🙂 Any batsman making their debut vs the 1980s WIs (eg Tim Curtis) should be excluded on compassionate grounds. Martyn Moxon was nowhere near bad enough for this list either, nor Ed Smith. Here’s a few others not in the main list…Ian Greig, Mark Ilott, Simon Brown, Gavin Hamilton, Jimmy Ormond, Kabir Ali, Rikki Clarke, Martin Saggers, Amjad Khan. Boyd Rankin and Simon Kerrigan might well end up as contenders, too. Usman Afzaal deserves his place for one of cricket’s most excruciating moments alone, celebrating a 50 in a losing cause vs the Aussies like he’d won the World Cup. Shame to see people suggesting Alan Wells for this list though – he was a good player who was really unlucky to only win 1 cap – happened to get a first baller then was 3 not out in tame draw vs WI. But for me, no such list is complete without Derek Pringle: nowhere near good enough for Test cricket, he won 30 CAPS, batting average 15, bowling 36! The ultimate old school tie pick.

  • For me, you have to pick a Worst Ever XI of players who were given lots of chances and won 15 caps or more. It’s unfair to pick on a player like Lathwell, who was said to be a real natural talent but lacked self-belief. His scores of 20, 33, 0, and 25 in his only two tests against the rampant 1993 Aussies are actually better than those of Mike Atherton against the same opponents four years earlier.
    I agree with Rupert Hill above, Pringle is the absolute worst and I always thought so at the time too. 30 caps for a man who averaged 15 with the bat and 36 runs per wicket taken. Another who won about 30 odd caps is Geoff Miller, batting average mid twenties, 60 wickets at 31 ish. The bowling is OK but this man was supposed to be an all-rounder. As good old Fred Trueman used to say of Miller, when Fred was a TMS summariser, “he hasn’t scored a first class hundred”. Fred was quite right at the time and by the end of his career, which included 380+ first class matches, Miller had only scored two first class hundred. So Miller and Pringle would have to be in this Worst Ever XI.
    Graham Hick has to go in there too, because an average of 31 and a bit just isn’t good enough for a talented player who was given loads of chances.
    On averages alone, you might choose Mike Brearley, but I cannot bring myself to do that because he was such a superb captain and his leadership skills more or less made up for him being only a county standard batsmen.
    Pringle, Miller and Hick are definitely in for me. Another would be Bill Athey, average of about 24, but played about 20 times I think.

  • Two more to include. David Capel, about 15 matches, batting average poor and each wicket cost him 50.66 runs ! Wayne Larkins, 13 matches between 1980 and 1991: average 20.54 and he was supposed to be an opening batsmen. Definitely want to add these two to Pringle, Miller and Athey.

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