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England's best XI?

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Adam Mountford | 20:52 UK time, Tuesday, 9 August 2011

England stand on the verge of being ranked as the number one Test team in the world for the first time since the official rankings began.

But does the fact they could be top of the charts for the first time automatically mean that Andrew Strauss is leading the best side that England have ever produced?

During the lunch interval on Wednesday, the Test Match Special team held a debate whether the 2011 vintage is England's greatest - but as always, we want to hear your thoughts.

You can comment on this blog, e-mail us at tms@bbc.co.uk or contact me @tmsproducer on Twitter.

England players celebrating together

The togetherness of this England side makes winning an expectation, with success breeding success. Photo: Getty

Of course, you are always on rather dangerous ground when you try to compare teams who played in different eras.

I can already hear Geoff Boycott ranting that this current England side haven't had to face some of the great fast bowlers which previous teams came up against; the likes of Holding, Garner, Roberts, Marshall or even the McGrath and Donald of more recent times plus spinning greats like Shane Warne and Murali have retired.

England have come across perhaps not the best prepared Indian team, while the tourists have had injury problems - with the absence of Zaheer Khan most significant.

But you can only beat the players who you come up against, and there is no doubting how impressive this current England team have been at doing that.

What is perhaps most notable is just how big a whole team effort it has been to take England 2011 to the verge of the number one spot.

England are 2-0 up against the current Test best without significant contributions from some of their normally most consistent performers like Cook, Swann, Trott and Strauss.

When one of the summer's best performers Chris Tremlett was injured at Trent Bridge, in came Tim Bresnan who arguably outperformed the tall Surrey paceman with wickets and more than useful runs.

We saw the same thing during England's amazing Ashes performance down under. When Stuart Broad was injured and Steve Finn lost form it was Tremlett and Bresnan who came to the fore.

And talking about Broad, he has demonstrated another knack of this current side - the ability to come back to form under pressure. Broad was by no means a certain selection at the start of this series but he has been at his swashbuckling best with ball and bat.

Kevin Pietersen has done the same. With some questioning his place in the side, KP replied with a hardworking double century at Lord's.

Despite his doziness at Trent Bridge, Ian Bell has had a glorious last few months for England, Jimmy Anderson continues to look among the world's best whilst Matt Prior has earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as Adam Gilchrist.

It's often said that a sign of a good team is strength in depth and there is plenty of talent coming through, with the likes of James Taylor unlucky to miss out on selection at Edgbaston, several fast bowlers on the fringes like Jade Dernbach and Graham Onions plus a wealth of wicketkeeping talent from Steven Davies to Craig Kieswetter and several spin bowlers like Monty Panesar, Samit Patel and the promising Scott Borthwick.

And there is the outstanding leadership that this current side enjoys - what Scyld Berry once described in Wisden as the "andocracy" of Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower.

Strauss is a highly impressive man who, after waiting his turn for the top job, has risen to its challenges. I also love the understated manner of Flower who despite being himself the top ranked batsman in the world at one point is happy to be in the background.

One of the images for me of the Ashes was Flower hugging Strauss at the MCG - not on the outfield, but away from the crowds in the tunnel.

I also look for characters in a great side and this current team have plenty of those - led of course by the irrepressible Graeme Swann, who must be both a gift and a nightmare for the PR people at the ECB.

So the case for this England side to be the best is definitely a strong one.

However there is plenty of room for debate.

England cricket team, 1969

Knott, Graveney, Illingworth and Boycott, to name but a few, were a great England side circa 1970. Photo: Central Press

Personally, I will always have a soft spot for the 2005 Ashes-winning team, a side which also enjoyed an amazing run of success in the couple of years before that.

It was a team which was victorious in South Africa and won all seven Tests of a summer before reaching its pinnacle in that glorious 2005 season.

The nature of that win over an Australian side full of legends such as Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist makes their case a good one. Again, excellent leadership from our own Michael Vaughan, great characters like Freddie Flintoff and surely one of England's greatest ever fast bowling line-ups.

Sadly that 2005 team never played together again after the fourth Test of that series as injuries plagued the likes of Simon Jones and Vaughan.

You can also pick a few holes in that team if you really want to - for example, Ian Bell was at the start of his England career and didn't really contribute in 2005.

Then you can go back to the England team of the 1950s which enjoyed a period of dominance. It was a side which won 10 series and drew four in between their Ashes defeats of 1950-51 and 1958-59. It was a team with a who's who of England cricketing greats - Len Hutton, Colin Cowdrey, Peter May, Godfrey Evans, Jim Laker, Tom Graveney, Denis Compton and Fred Trueman to name but a few.

Ray Illingworth's team that won eight and drew two in the four years leading up to June 1971 has to have a mention with Boycott, Alan Knott, John Snow, John Edrich and Derek Underwood just a few of its star players. Plenty of characters among that lot as well... one of which is almost always in my ear!

Finally, I think you have to give at least a nod to the 1981 England side which may not have enjoyed a period of domination but certainly performed some miracles that summer with characters such as Ian Botham and Bob Willis and batting talent like David Gower, Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting.

If you've got to the end of this blog hoping for my selection, I am afraid you are going to be disappointed. I will leave that to you and the expert TMS team.

But hopefully I have helped to at least get you thinking, and it promises to be a lively discussion on Wednesday.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Always impossible to compare great sides of different era's and there are or appear to be more dominant batsman in the world today. All I can say is that I have followed English cricket fanatically for 30 years now (1981) I have never seen our bowling attack as tall, as feisty and with as much strength in depth as it has now, are we the West Indians of 2010? Neither have I seen an England side bat as well all the way down the order as this one, in our last test our no 9 who already has a test century to his name plundered 108 runs in two innings. I can't give a truly informed opinion comparing this side to others before 1981 but and with respect to 2005 this is the best English side I have ever seen and I think would have beaten Australia in 2001 and 2005. Either way and what ever your point of view it is a good time to be watching English Cricket.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree, it is fiendishly difficult, and I think unfair, to compare sides of different eras and decide which is better or who would have challenged who. That said, this England side are pretty damn good, and a really formidable opposition. One way of working out just how good they are is to ponder who you would drop if the likes of Beefy, Boycs and the boys where still available... I dont know! There are literally 9 men in the XI (when big Tim plays anyway) capable of hitting big totals, as well as enough bowling power to fly through teams like a hot curry. Yes, a really fast all rounder like Flintoff or Botham would be lovely, but I think with 3 bowlers who can do a lot more than swish the willow, they're not doing to badly! I think for every great character in English cricket, there is an equivalent in this current squad of players. Of course, if you don't agree, please vent your opinions....

  • Comment number 3.

    I think it is very difficult to pick any major holes in the current England team. The batting (particularly Trott in my opinion) looks very tough, confident and aggressive. The bowling is disciplined (when Broad isn't in bouncer mode) and Prior is solid. The only hole i can think to pick is at Number 6. Morgan looks a bit of a one day specialist a not overly convincing as a test batsman. It'll be interesting to see what Bopara can do...
    It's just a bit of a shame that our two best batsmen, Trott and Pietersen, aren't products of English cricket!

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm only 24 so I can't really compare this team to any other (except the 2005) team, as i've not seen any of these other 'great' teams play. However, I have had to endure many years of watching England get mauled by the Aussies. Now it's Englands turn. This team of 2011 is somewhat remarkable, they have everything. Two great openers, one who is a brilliant captain and on his day a fine player to watch who is capable of big scores (i know it wasn't test match cricket, but that 158 he made against India - the eventual comfortable winners - was simply stunning) and one who is sure to become captain when Strauss retires, that has proven he can make a score on a regular basis playing solid cricket, lets forget these last two tests though for Cook! Trott is a number three who is second only to the great Jaques Kallis, and fills me with more confidence than any other player I have ever seen step to the crease for England. KP is KP, can't catch a ball, but you can't help but love him. Has the power to dominate ANY bowler. Bell is hugely underrated and Morgan has shown he has the potential, and he's fortunate he's in such a strong side that can afford to keep him around. Prior is the closest anyone will ever come to Gilchrist. The bowling attack speaks for itself. Any batting line-up with Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar that is kept below 300 in four straight innings (and the pitches aren't exactly the worst to bat on) just shows what they are capable of and how well they work as a unit. This is with Swann not taking hardly any wickets too!

    The current England team have the balance of Captain-Coach leading, Team spirit, Grit & Determination, flair & personality exactly right. Never been a better time (in my life-time) to be an England cricket fan.

  • Comment number 5.

    I am 26 so like post #4 not really qualified to be comparing this side to anything before the mid 90's.

    However this is certainly the best England side i have ever seen. I, like you Adam have a soft spot for the 05 team but i have no doubt that the current side would beat them in a 5 match series. We currently bat much further down the order and have such a strong batting line up, with someone always ready to step up when the chips are down.

    The only thing this side misses which 05 had is Freddie (a truly worlfd class allrounder.) I think no one on here would argue that Prior's recent form with the bat makes him a more than good number 6 with an all rounder to come in at 7.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think this is a strong side for sure, with no weaknesses on the field and a lot of depth. When players come in these days they're already ready, they don't need ten or fifteen tests just for a first fifty, a la the likes of Nick Knight, Graeme Hick, etc. However, a lot of the teams they've beaten have not been great sides - the Aussies were rubbish, Pakistan were a mess and Sri Lanka would have got a drawn series if not for an afternoon of madness. Take nothing away from this side, though, they've stepped up when it matters, the first two tests against a complacent and hugely overrated Indian side proving that. The only other side with the same strength in both batting and bowling is South Africa, otherwise there are no current teams I'd even call good. If we beat South Africa and India away from home we'll fully deserve the right to call ourselves the best team in the world, even if we don't already. In terms of history, however, we'd have fought hard but probably still gone down against the great Windies team of the 80s. Our batsmen are solid and gutsy but I don't think any team ever would have beaten that Windies side on their home turf.

  • Comment number 7.

    What tosh!

    Mike Atherton used to have to face Ambrose, Walsh, Donald, Akram, Younis, Warne & McGrath.

    This lot don't know they are born, the opposition bowlers are pie chuckers the lot of them, there is not one decent quick around.

    20/20 produces bowlers that can save runs and that's it.

    The England team is doing well because the opposition is very poor compared to 10-15 years ago.

    The India attack was decimated by the loss of Zaheer too.

  • Comment number 8.

    This is the best England side I have ever seen to be honest.
    Their tail-enders can also get them vital runs.
    But just like JONAHMONA said, people in the England side before this had to face great ballers like Warne, Murali, Akram, etc
    I also have followed the Aussies closely and seriously, that's probably the worst Aussie team i have ever seen!
    This is the Rise of England and the Downfall of the Aussies

  • Comment number 9.

    An impossible question on the face of it. The 'stats' would say that there have been few better teams (ie. won more tests by bigger margins than this one) but for me the 'undoing' of this team in this respect is not their own performance but the standard of opposition. The current Australians are as nothing to those beaten by Jardines party or Brearleys. The West Indian test side is as poor as its ever been. New Zealand and Pakistan are poor and India,away from home at any rate,are beatable and have an air of being just ever so slightly over the top. This leaves the South Africans who are not playing much test cricket and Sri Lanka who play even less. You can only beat what is put infront of you of course and England are dominating at present but fact is most Indian fans and goodly number of their players would regard winning the World Cup as a greater prize than topping the test match 'table'. That is a situation which I believe is bad for cricket but nevertheless it IS the situation,many of teams we have beaten play this format seldom and care about it less and so 'Greatest Ever England team'? I think not.

  • Comment number 10.

    Do you think the current test matches between India and england should be relocated to a safer country and the london olympics be relocated to a safer European country like Germany or maybe an Asian country like India with a proven track record of holding PEACEFUL games .

  • Comment number 11.

    3. At 00:47 10th Aug 2011, pengeaumont wrote:
    It's just a bit of a shame that our two best batsmen, Trott and Pietersen, aren't products of English cricket!

    ---------------

    When Pietersen moved to England, he was a bowler and lower-order slogger who wasn't good enough to get in his team. It was in England that he developed into a brilliant batsman.

    Trott was more promising in South Africa, having represented their Under-19 team, but he still improved immensely over here, especially with regards to his mental side.

  • Comment number 12.

    Let's play India / South Africa away before we start talking about having our best side of all time.

    In fact, let's actually win this home series - we're still only halfway through!

  • Comment number 13.

    I understand the argument that test teams around the world are poor at the moment. Don't think anyone will argue that. However these people that knock this England team for that fact forget the simple truth that apart from the rain affected Sri Lanka series this team has totally crushed teams like India & Australia by huge totals. You can only beat what's in front of you and they've done it rather well.

    As for the KP and Trott comment please get a grip about "englishness". As already stated these guys didn't just find a grand parent, they have had to work extremely to play for their adopted country. Happens everywhere, every sport.

  • Comment number 14.

    Seriously? Tone down the hype a little bit.I am Indian and our bowling attack has always been weak.While the job of scoring runs and taking wickets against this Indian team still needed to be done by the English XI and props to them for doing that and being the better team, but to go out and call this team the greatest English XI is a bit unfair.Have a little more respect for the so called old timers. I know newer things tend to stick out in our mind but give history its due.Brearly's XI was England's best XI

  • Comment number 15.

    If you are going to open this up then without any detriment to the current team or 2005 or 81 or 77 or 71 or mid 50's team the best surely has to be 1932/33? So little video available which is a shame but if you look at the players, Sutcliffe, Hammond, Larwood, Voce, Verity, Jardine, Ames, Allen they were brilliant. Jardine less brilliant but captain of highest order. I'd stick with this one

  • Comment number 16.

    This is the biggest problem with England and also India. Win a few matches on home ground, a weakened opposition, they think they are the best that ever lived. They become so cocky and belligerent that it is difficult for a neutral third party to actually like these teams. This situation is made worse by their media and belligerent supporters (Vaughan/Shastri).

    Granted that both England and India have played some great cricket during the last one year. But the Greatest Ever? Come on, lets keep a sense of perspective.

    The current Australians are as nothing to those beaten by Jardines party or Brearleys. The West Indian test side is as poor as its ever been. New Zealand and Pakistan are poor and India,away from home at any rate,are always suspect and have an air of being just ever so slightly over the top. This leaves the South Africans who are not playing much test cricket and Sri Lanka who play even less. Does beating some of the teams in this current context makes a team all time great?

    Now lets look at current England side. Its opening pair is suspect. KP and Trott are the only two consistent performer. Despite great promise, except stuart broad, none of the current bowlers come even close to Bob Willis, underwood, truman level. If only India had Zaheer fully fit, and its batting a bit more prepared, we would have been watching a complete different scenario of the Indians crowing about being the best ever.

    To be considered the best ever, I personally think that you need to perform consistently over a period of time against all kinds of opposition. Untill England team achieves that distinction, please dont spoil them talking in terms of the greatest ever team. You are not doing them any favors.

  • Comment number 17.

    On the Trott and KP front, both players have English parents.

    Direct quote from Wiki: 'As he holds a British passport, Trott was not considered an overseas player in County cricket.'

    My brother was born in NZ, our parents are English, does that make him a foreigner and unable to play for England?

    Time to actually look up some facts before dredging this one up again.

  • Comment number 18.

    Whatever era, you can only play against the best that is on offer at the time. The current England team have shown their class against top sides like Australia and India, who admittedly might be on the wane The real difference between the side now and yesteryear is the strength in depth. England have a genuine pace attack with Anderson and Broad leading the way with good support from Tremlett and Bresnan, plus a top class spinner in Swann.

    That said, the batting and fielding has also been excellent. Batsmen such as Cook, Trott and Bell have been in excellent form, whilst a long tail has helped England to produce consistent batting displays. Finally, we have a world class wicket keeper in Matt Prior, who is also very useful with the bat. It all adds up to a formidable team in this particular era and arguably the best cricket team England have produced for several decades. Long may it last.

  • Comment number 19.

    NO

  • Comment number 20.

    jonahmona is right. we've got good, solid players in the team presently, but there's a derth of exceptional talent in world cricket. we're the best of a fair-to-middling bunch. there are no great quicks like the windies of the eighties, nor great combinations, like warne-mcgrath. our batsmen aren't in the same league as laxman, dravid, tendulkar etc at their best, nor as redoubtable as the dominant aussie and windies sides of the nineties/early noughties, and eighties, respectively. the beauty of the present england team is that they are exactly that: a team. they're more than the sum of their parts, they play well for one another. much credit much go to strauss and flower for engendering that approach.

    But, are they the best. As devilisindetail puts it, so succintly: NO

  • Comment number 21.

    Adam who? Which test team did he play in? The current side is doing well, but does not compare with those who had to play the great West Indian and Australian teams of the past. None of the current team would get into my best England post war XI.

  • Comment number 22.

    "This lot don't know they are born, the opposition bowlers are pie chuckers the lot of them, there is not one decent quick around. "

    I take this as you saying therefore that you'd happily go and spend a few hours batting against Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Umar Gul and Kemar Roach, all told to crank it up to the maximum pace, yes? And doubtless bash hundred after hundred in the process?

  • Comment number 23.

    As with all sports, it's impossible to compare eras. All you can (maybe) say is that a great player would have been a great player in any era. Bradman and Hobbs would likely be carting the bowlers to all parts, much as they did their day. No they didn't have to face Waqar and Wasim in full flow either, but players today don't have to contend with O'Reilly and Grimmett on a Brisbane sticky. The game has changed so much that it's really the old apples and oranges comparison.

  • Comment number 24.

    In 18 months time is when we should judge this side's place in history. By then they will have toured both Pakistan and India as well as facing South Africa at home. Beating India in England is one thing, but if they can win a test series on the sub-continent then I think they will deserve their place in history.

  • Comment number 25.

    One factor that is often ignored in the cross era debates is one of fitness and conditioning.

    Very few modern quicks have an epic run up, like those of 20 years ago. I remember watching Willis steam in from 30 odd yards, and going much further back, Frank Tyson, dependant on the size of the ground, would literally run in from the sight screen.

    The modern player is generally faster over the ground, and bowlers are now, certainly in the case of the England ones, not simply lumbering around the boundary in the vain hope of stopping the ball.

    The top modern teams are more dynamic than those of yesteryear, but on the flip side, they don't have to contend with uncovered tracks, and had little in the way of protective gear.

    Swings and roundabouts.

  • Comment number 26.

    I know it's a bit of a quality vs quantity argument, but it is worth noting that it's not inconceivable that in 18 months time, 4 of England's top 6 could be 1-4 on the list of English test century-makers (Strauss 19, KP and Cook 18, Bell 15 maybe could do it), and Anderson could be in the top 5 wicket takers (22 more to overtake Brian Statham). That's not a bad position to be in!

  • Comment number 27.

    This is a great topic for all lovers of the greatest game in the world! IMO this current England team is now probably the most dominant in relation to other teams around we have ever seen in modern cricket but is it the best England team ever...... probably not.

    You can look back at better England teams with batting line ups of the likes of Boycott, Amiss, Gower, Gooch, Lamb, Botham but they had to face the best Test team ever when the West Indians imperious ruled the cricket world. I can remember one game when they had 460 odd for 4 on the board against us and Clive Lloyd walks out to bat with Sobers padded up in the pavilion to come in next. They batted down to Keith Boyce (older fans will remember him) at number ten!

    Botham never made a test century against the West Indians but would this current team have done any better?

  • Comment number 28.

    I go with #15. The 1932/33 England side was probably the stongest ever. Wally Hammond would have been a legend had his career not coincided with Don Bradman, the est of the batting was stong and the attack was fearsome.

    It's an interesting argument to damn England with faint praise ("England are only good because everyone else is rubbish"). You would have heard something similar about the West Indies in the 1980s: they were good, but the rest of the sides were so poor that we never really knew how good they were. There is also an argument that other sides are only as good as the top dog allows them to be (e.g. England beat India comfortably in India in 1984/85 in Tests and ODIs and then went on to hammer Australia, making the side look a bit special until, in Spring 1986, the West Indies beat us 5-0 and the same all-conquering England side was dismissed as rubbish again).

    However, the class of 2011 does not get the recognition that it deserves in part because it is a team rather than a collection of brilliant individuals. Bowlers like Broad, Anderson and Bresnan have never been highly rated, even by many England fans (and often mocked by opposition fans), but work as a tight unit. A lot of us wondered a few months ago if Stuart Broad should be playing Test cricket... well, we certainly have our answer; there was astonishment that Tim Bresnan was selected for the tour of Australia but look how successful he has been since then.

    Time will tell how good England 2011 are. If they can win in Sri Lanka this winter maybe they will start to get the credit that is due to them as a pretty decent unit, but a truly great side dominates for 5-10 years and England have not done that yet.

  • Comment number 29.

    Apologies to Mike Gatting for erroneously omitting him from the line up in my previous post!

  • Comment number 30.

    Are the current test team the best England XI ever - maybe not. Is English test cricket in the best shape ever - I think so. And I say this not just because of the eleven players on the pitch for the match, but because of the strength in depth around the fringes of the squad. Man for man there are arguments that would bring in brilliant players from other eras into the team (all playing at their best) and maybe very few of the current squad could make it into an all-time XI. But when have England had such depth in all areas of the game - Tremlett out, Bresnan comes in, Finn, Onions and others all on the sidelines; Trott out, Bopara to come in, James Taylor et al waiting and pressing for their chance.
    The other factor is that 'special' team factor - every team is the more than the sum of its parts, but in this case that seems particularly true.
    The point has been made that we shouldn't judge England to be the World number 1 test team until they have beaten the likes of India/Sri Lanka away from home - but shouldn't that also be said of India? They are happy to be the current number 1 without having beaten England in England!

  • Comment number 31.

    I used to think cricket was slow and sometimes boring then along came Ian Botham and since then my attention span was reacted. I now look at cricket like this batsmen bowlers all rounders.If you ask me who was the greatest opening batsmen I couldn't tell you.Boycott Barrington and Edrich stayed at the crease for ages slowly building up the runs hard to get out but many would say they would rather see paint dry. Cricket and I can hear Geoff Boycott say it now is an exact science and he certainly applied this to his batting.Andrew Strauss on the other hand scores his runs pretty quickly but still ranks as a great batsman to date.So you can see where I am comming from it's nigh on impossible to compare who want's too let's just enjoy what is in front of us and just hope sometime along the line the England Football Team get their act together!

  • Comment number 32.

    It's hard to compare teams from different eras but you could at least try to do it sensibly.

    Comparing a team from the current series with one spanning 8 years (that's a generation, not a team) is stupid in the extreme.

    In general I would say the 2005 team was better in that series than this team/squad have been in any single series thus far. However this team is doing the job consistently whereas that side did not.

    Of course the bowling opposition is not as strong today as it has been in the past, but the batting opposition has never been stronger, ever.

  • Comment number 33.

    #17 - Trott and Pietersen are simply South Africans. That's the bottom line. Born & raised there and you can hear it in every word they say. No doubt they've improved their game since coming to England - you would expect any professional cricketer in their 20s to do so. But they are South Africans. (And there's no such thing as an English passport btw).

    #7 - Brearley never actually defeated a strong Australian XI - the teams he beat contained such legends as Graeme Wood, Peter Toohey, Ray Bright and Martin Kent..... The one time he did come up against a full strength Australia in 1980, we lost the series 3-0.

    It's true that the standard of most test sides is currently unexceptional (although South Africa are very good, and India have been until recently), but that doesn't mean that this can't still be the best England XI ever. The teams of the 1950s were outstanding - Hutton, Compton, Bailey, Bedser, Cowdrey, Statham, Tyson, Evans, Laker, May and Graveney were all world-class performers and we were pretty much the undisputed best side in the world for most of the decade - which has never happened since. We had some good moments in the 1970s, but the era 1960-2003 produced zero England teams that could be called great. The 2005 Ashes winners (who also did great things in 2003-04) would be strong competition for the current side.

    Going further back, England produced some extremely strong teams in the 1910s and 1930s, but there are probably very few people now alive who can remember seeing any of them play. But a team containing Hammond, Jardine, Leyland, Larwood, Voce and Bowes would be stiff opposition for any side of any era. I believe one of the England sides of the early c.20 contained eleven batsmen with a first-class century to their name.

    My guess is that the current side is probably the best that England has ever produced (if we can be said to have "produced" Pietersen, Trott and Morgan, which we can't). Greatness is about more than proficiency, and it remains to be seen if they will do anything which echoes throughout future generations as unequivocally "great", but we obviously can't judge that yet.

  • Comment number 34.

    The only way you can say this is the best side ever is when it has achieved something no other side has. You can't do these silly player v player comparisons and say "ummm grace is better, hobbs is better" or whatever. So talk of being the best ever is at least 5 years too early. Let's not forget this time last year, BBC blogs were nothing but "where does English cricket go from here? Why are so many of our players average? Why can't we take 20 wickets?"

  • Comment number 35.

    #33, calling Trott & KP south africans - god this is so boring. 7 years now, the likes of you have been prattling on about this insignificance. KP has an english family, an english mother. Trott's parents descended from England, and has a rich history in his family of test cricketers who played for the likes of Warwikshire and England - why do you have the right to say whether they are English or not?

    Answer this point instead of ignoring it and carrying on boring people with these stupid nationality arguments

  • Comment number 36.

    Given that this English team lost to South Africa the last time the South Africans came to Englad and only just managed to scrape a very lucky drawn series in SA, South Africa are clearly the side that troubles them the most and who they need to beat to be considered the best team in the world at the moment and/or the best English team ever. The likes of steyn, morkel, kallis, de villiers, amla are all amongst the very best in the world right now and would relish a contest between them and the english. Bring on summer 2012!

  • Comment number 37.

    #36, this is a different side to the one that lost at home in 2008, and the series in South Africa was not lucky - it was determination, and also the next step in this sides development of character. They kept out this bowling attack for 2 days on one occasion to save a test match, swept to an innings victory in another and but for a crazy hour on the last day of the 1st test match, had matched it.

  • Comment number 38.

    Kapnag, yes Pietersen and Trott have English ancestry, as do Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher, Andrew Hall and many other South Africans. Are they in fact English?

    KP & JT have opted for England and owe their allegiance to England - I don't doubt that at all - but they're South Africans who have opted for England and owe their allegiance to England. Jeez, if someone who is born and raised in South Africa and speaks with a strong South African accent (which proves they have absorbed the culture) isn't South African, then who is? Also, doesn't the fact that Trott PLAYED for South Africa as late as the age of 18 suggest anything to you?

    They're selected according to the rules and regulations and all the paperwork is in order no doubt, but let's be honest about what's going on.

  • Comment number 39.

    What I find most interesting is that former great players, with perhaps the exception of G Boycott, all readily accept that this is a more complete team with an abundance of talent than they used to play with. Naturally Boycott's mum might make the team but he probably wouldn't....England would have had 2 drawn matches at this stage of the series had he been.

  • Comment number 40.

    #38, it has been going on for decades, across many things other than cricket. And there are many examples across the world of people who call themselves english who were not born in this country. Are you calling them foreigners too? With the history in these players family trees, who cares where they are born? It's such a snobbish, boring argument

  • Comment number 41.

    I look at England team photos of yester-year like the one above and I think 'they just don't look like athletes'.

  • Comment number 42.

    "So the case for this England side to be the best is definitely a strong one."

    Seriously? You're making the case for this based on us beating one of the worst Australian sides ever, beating Sri Lanka in the damp English summer, and inflicting two defeats on the worst Indian bowling side since the series Gooch made 333. That's like claiming Fulham as European giants of football based on reaching the Europa League Final in the recent past.

    In the modern era, Vaughan's side beat far better teams than this England side have beaten. Let's see, in terms of playing Australia away, Sri Lanka home and India home our batsmen haven't faced a truly top class spinner, didn't play against a genuinely good seamer in Australia nor against Sri Lanka, looked shaky against the one decent seamer they've played against (Zaheer Khan) until he was crocked, and were helped by India giving up with the ball in the last Test.

    Utterly ridiculous hyperbole from the media over this current side. Goodness know how the reports will go if we, say, go to Sri Lanka and win.

  • Comment number 43.

    Kapnag, I'm aware it has been going on for decades. Most of our fast bowlers in the 1980s and 1990s were imported. It's notable though that other countries (with smaller pools of players to pick from) don't do it nearly as much as England, if at all. Birthplace isn't particularly relevant by the way - it's upbringing and acculturation that make an identity. And I notice you didn't address the point about Trott actually playing international cricket for South Africa before he decided to "transfer" to another country (KP also wanted to play for his home country but felt the selectors wouldn't give him a fair chance, so I don't really believe that he grew up dreaming of playing for a country on the other side of the world).

    And it's not a boring argument at all - it's an interesting one because it gets to the heart of what international sport really is. The tendency seems to be for it to be morphing into an elevated tier of club sport, with elgibility rules loosened to the point of meaninglessness and countries (especially England, unfortunately) importing players to measure and increasingly ignoring home-grown players. This trend could eventually be the death of international sport. Anyway, this is going off-topic.

  • Comment number 44.

    It's interesting that you can make the case for this being the best England team ever but also that noe of the current starting XI would make the list of the best all time England XI - Cook, Trott, Pieterson and Bell might in the future if they continue to show good form, but at the moment I'd definitely rate them lower than the likes of Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Boycott, Hutton, Hammond and Barrington.

    The key thing, as others have stated, is how this team so often finds a way to be competetive - take the last Test: 124-8 in the first innings and we scramble to over 220, just about enough to be competetive, and then follow up by blasting out the second half of the Indian batting order (Broad's 5 for 0 spell). Before that, in Australia it was mostly the Cook and Trott show.

  • Comment number 45.

    It's very difficult to compare era's especially how cricket has changed so dramatically since the second world war.

    However some comparisons can be made, the question on whether this is the greatest England side, probably not due to various factors.

    The batting line up doesn't even come close to probably the classiest batting line up England ever produced in May, Cowdrey (has there ever been a more graceful player to watch), Barrington, Graveney and Dexter in the late 50's and early 60's, and these guys played on unprotected pitches, no helmets or body protection and played against very strong Australian and West Indian sides. I don't think today's batting side are even as good unit as the Gatting, Gower, Lamb and Botham era, but that's not to say they're average because there not.

    The bowling unit of today's squad is probably the equal of any the previous greats such as Tyson, Trueman, Statham, Lock, Laker, Underwood, Willis, Botham, Flintoff etc.

    Today's side however, is so much stronger and fitter plus they are a very strong coehesive unit, something you never got in the previous era's, they have far better fielding skills, they are better prepared and are very well led, and to beat Australia on their home patch so convincingly is no mean feat, even though it may not have been strongest Aussie side ever, the Aussies never put out a bad side and to beat them does tell me that this England side has to be one of the very best.

    You can only beat what has been put in front of you and the Strauss/Flower combination has been superb in organising and winning test series. So let us accept that they are a very good and talented test side, and leave it to the imagination of how they would stack up against previous great England sides.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think we need to place things into perspective. At the moment, this England side resembles a juggernaught, it looks so powerful in all departments. But we must counter this by looking at the opposition that is facing them - there are very few truly world class bowlers - Consider the era that the great Aussie team played in.
    At that time we had Ambrose, Walsh, Wasim Akram, Wakar Younis, Mcgrath, Warne, Mullitheran, Donald, Pollock, .... Peter Such, Mullally (sorry, couldn't resist !). During the 80s we had Marshall, Holding, Croft, Garner, Roberts, Lillee, Thompson, Pasoce, Hadlee, Kapil Dev, Botham, Willis.

    So what bowlers are there of true world class these days - Steyn, thats about the lot, you might also argue Anderson & Zaheer Khan.

    Best team ever ... W.Indies in the 80s by a mile.


    The reason for this I believe is that when players emerge, they are preserving their bodies in order to play for longer and take advantage of the money available with the likes of the IPL and such like. Its a real shame, because it is becoming a bit of a batting fest.

  • Comment number 47.

    @ 33. If you actually read what I posted, he has a BRITISH passport. What more do you want? His parents were English, he happened to be born in SA and grow up there, like my brother in NZ. Try and tell my bother he is a Kiwi, it won't be a pleasant response.

    BTW, Ryan Giggs played for England schoolboys, because he went to school in England. Try and tell him he's not Welsh.

    See my point?

  • Comment number 48.

    While I too, like many others here, have a soft spot for the 05 team you could quite easily pick apart its weaknesses. Injury, a tendency for batting collapses and a lack of replacements of significant quality mean it will never be the best England XI despite defeating the legends of Australia (although lets remember McGrath was injured for much of the series).

    What characterises this 2011 England team is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, there's no reliance on 2 or 3 key men in the way that India rely on Dravid and Tendulkar and Australia rely on Ponting and Clarke, moreover there are Test quality replacements for any position rather than solid 1st class cricketers. This then is certainly the best England SQUAD ever in my opinion and most of them are still young and early in their careers. If the England players can keep their consistency, in a few years time the likes of Cook, Broad, Prior and Anderson may well be eligible to be mentioned in the same breath as the Waugh's, McGrath's, Flintoff's and such.

    Also I must say that the lack of genuine fast bowlers is rather irrelevant because the game has changed since the 80s and 90s. As Test teams have got more aggressive when batting it has been necessary for bowlers to try and tie batsmen down in the way McGrath did, forcing them into frustrated mistakes. having a quick who can hurl it into your chest at 90mph is all well and good but batsmen can cope with it better now so it can be wasteful and ineffective (Broad is a perfect example of that!).

  • Comment number 49.

    what is wrong with these english players/
    sTRAUSS, tROTT, PIETERSON, MORGAN, PRIOR,, ,, NONE ENGLISH. GIVEN THEY HAVE THE LARGEST POOL OF PLAYERS TO CHOSE FROM WHY DO THEY KEEP USING THE RUKES AND PICKING FOREIGNERS? ITS AS BAD A STHE RUGBY TEAM ALTHOUGH TO BE FAIR NOTHING IS AS BAD AS STEVENS, CORBISSIERE, MANU, HAPE .

  • Comment number 50.

    #37 - the current English side contains the core of the side that lost to SA in 2008. Strauss, Cook, KP, Bell, Broad, Anderson all played a big part in that losing 2008 side and would certainly like to get a victory over SA under their belts. Trott, Prior and co certainly add to that 2008 side, and the current team are a very good side, but they need that victory over SA to silence the doubters of their potential #1 status

  • Comment number 51.

    #47 - no, not really. Schoolboy-level international football is based purely on school attendance and doesn't have any bearing on selection criteria for proper international teams at age-group and senior levels.

    More generally: fine, we obviously have different views of what international sport means so let's agree to disagree. But the fact that this argument does keep resurfacing ought to tell you that it's non-trivial and may actually contain some valid points. There's no need to be so defensive about it.

  • Comment number 52.

    I don't really care if Trott played for SA under 19's. He's been in England for nearly a decade now, making a name for himself in county cricket. He is as good a representative of English cricket as anyone else. What you haven't said anything about is the people across the world who some have never even been to England, not in your eyes being able to call themselves English.

    An interesting argument? It hasn't changed one bit in years, it's the same points raised again and again. It just doesn't matter

  • Comment number 53.

    @45.fenderac30:

    "...and to beat Australia on their home patch so convincingly is no mean feat, even though it may not have been strongest Aussie side ever, the Aussies never put out a bad side..."

    I think you'd find many Australians would utterly disagree with you there.

  • Comment number 54.

    It is a fine team but not even the best England team of 2011. Every county player I have talked to (5 or 6) who has seen him play agrees that Chris Woakes would greatly strengthen the team batting at 7 or 8 with Prior up to 6 and Morgan out. This is not to suggest Morgan is a poor player but Woakes is the best England all rounder since Botham. Put him in at 7/8 and you have a player averaging nearly 50 with the bat this season and the best controlled seam bowler (not swing or pure pace) since Mike Hendrick in the 70s. It is a mystery why he has not been given a test chance as he is much better suited to test cricket than the short form. However, in the short form he is a much better player than Dernbach (as seen by his performances against Australia - he can win games on his own). You may think the selectors have a political agenda in not selecting him. I could not possibly comment.

  • Comment number 55.

    #6 Utter tosh.
    "When players come in these days they're already ready, they don't need ten or fifteen tests just for a first fifty, a la the likes of Nick Knight"

    Nick Knight scored two fifties and a ton in his first five tests and scored 56 and 96 in his 7th test.

  • Comment number 56.

    alb1on - oh go on, comment...

  • Comment number 57.

    I've been watching test cricket for over forty years and it's a very close call for the best I've seen between this one and the 2005 side. The 2005 Ashes side had stronger seam bowling with Flintoff and Simon Jones at their sadly too brief best, but the great strength of the current team is how consistent the batting is, with Prior playing like Adam Gilchrist at his best and Swann with 1st class hundreds batting at 10 when in most teams he would come in at 8. And Swann is an outstanding spinner, with all due respect to Ashley Giles, he's a class above.
    The great strength of the current team is team work, team spirit and organisation: I wistfully wonder how some of the outstanding county players whose talents weren't fulfilled in past England sides, particularly Mark Ramprakash and Graeme Hick, could have achieved with the support and organisation England have today.

  • Comment number 58.

    #7 - Think before you speak
    "Mike Atherton used to have to face Ambrose, Walsh, Donald, Akram, Younis, Warne & McGrath." Did we consistently beat these teams? Did Atherton (who i thought was a very good batter by the way) Constantly get done in by these bowlers or did he average 90 against them?

  • Comment number 59.

    One of the main reasons the Windies side of the 70's and 80's dominated was because of their quicks. However they bowled at a painfully slow rate and were once allowed to bowl thirteen bouncers on the trot at Allan Lamb and Robin Smith in the WIndies. The rules were changed in 1991 limiting them to one bouncer an over and they immediately became a lot less effective.
    Bradman never had to face such an onslaught series after series and it's interesting to note that in the one series that he did, his avarage effectively halved.

    The LBW rules have changed, pitches are now covered and the Duke ball has now achieved prominence. Batsmen can now wear protective equipment allowing them to play the short pitched ball in particular with a lot more confidence. Boundaries have been brought in from the edges for safety reasons and bats are now much more powerful, making it easier to clear the boundary. Replays on run outs and stumpings mean a batsman will often be given out now, rather than being given the benefit of the doubt. The review system means umpires are more likely to give more LBW decisions than before. Bowlers are now allowed to bend their arm 15 degrees.

    The point is that even in the past 30 years the game has changed completely and it makes comparisons meaningless. Would Bradman have averaged 100 against the great Windies attack of the late 70's and 80's? Would that attack have been anywhere near as successful if only allowed to bowl one bouncer an over, the answer to both questions is almost certainly no.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think this debate can be divided into
    1. are these the best 11 players for an England and Wales test team - arguments/discussion on an individual basis, probably only a few would even come close or
    2. is this the best team/squad, collectively - I know the opposition is different class, but they have to be up there somewhere although I think its too early to say they're the best yet. If they can stay together and fit for a few years this squad has the POTENTIAL to be the best ever

  • Comment number 61.

    We are lucky to just not to have a great side at the moment but some fantastic talent coming through as well. James Taylor would surely have been a better long term pick for this match than Ravi Bopara. We seem to have some good young spinners coming through at most counties and some of the younger batsmen and fast bowlers look to have great potential. The England team is currently on the crest of a wave and with the talent that is emerging we should hopefully remain there for years to come. At least it gives us young men to be proud of rather than the despise that many of us feel for the rioters and looters who are currently grabbing the headlines.

  • Comment number 62.

    good idea can anyone name the last real England team all actually born in England not SA Wales or Ireland

  • Comment number 63.

    #50,the aussies said the same that the core of this side was the same as the ashes in 2009 when it was a topsy turvy series. This core is much stronger than in 2008 - Bell has scored a stack of runs, Cook, Trott, Pietersen back in form, Morgan finding his feet. And the bowling has grown in strength too. No weak link in the attack, every option a threat, with people ready to step in for an injury - so this England side will be a tough one for SA to face.

  • Comment number 64.

    No-one from the current England team would get in an all-time XI. Several of its members [Trott, Prior, Swann, Anderson, Bresnan] are, at best, very good county players. There are no great players & it isn't a great team. As a team they function efficiently against mediocre competition & are invariably much better when playing in this country.

    Also, no other England team to my knowledge ever lost a cricket match against Ireland.

  • Comment number 65.

    Whether or not individually these are the best players England have ever produced this is the best England "Team" ever. The team work and camaraderie shown by this squad of players as well as the ability to fight back from seemingly on the brink is world class and definatley the best team I've ever had the privaledge of watching.

  • Comment number 66.

    Rich #62; it is a little difficult to find a team of pure born and bred English players even going back many years when you think of the likes of Cowdrey (Colin) being born in India and Ted Dexter born in Milan. I wonder if such has side has even existed given the presence of both Indian players and the offspring of colonial families in the England team in the late 19th century up until the mid 20th.

  • Comment number 67.

    If you were born in last 3 years or so, this is the best ever England team. Else you know this team has some way to go if its to be named that.
    They are deserved no1 currently. but lets not forget just because they are wining against India here in England,doesnt make them a great team. This indian team is not anywhere near its peak. Does it even have a proper bowling attack.NO. Im sure lot of ex cricketers would be royally angered to even see a article like this. Well then again thats what media wants, some topic to create a buzz. Eventhough its utter nonesence

  • Comment number 68.

    The question was is this the greatest team, and I think the answer to that is probably yes - great sides of the past often had outstanding contributions from individuals (Botham's Ashes for example), I would agree that many of this side would not get in an overall best XI, but they do often seem to add up to more than the sum of the individuals for which great credit must go to Strauss and Flower. English cricket has been on a more or less upward curve since the early 2000's (granted with the odd aberration such as 2007 Ashes) and Hussain and Vaughan and Fletcher are also due a nod.
    All in all this is pretty much a golden period for English Test Cricket and the one day side is also much improved, although for me I would not care if the one day or 20/20 team is rubbish if the test team if #1

  • Comment number 69.

    England last fielded an all-English born test side in 2003, if memory serves.

    Of course, birthplace is a relatively minor detail - what actual impact does it have on your character, identity and allegiance? You don't choose where you're born or have any memory of it. The likes of Cowdrey and Dexter were clearly Englishmen who happened to have been born overseas. A different category from full-on foreign players who exploit a tenuous (or sometimes non-existent) link to England in order to be able to get some test cricket on the cv because they're not good enough for their own country or because their own country doesn't play cricket seriously.

    Alb1on - spill the beans on the Woakes theory. Inquiring minds want to know!

  • Comment number 70.

    #64, watch some of the deliveries that have blown away India's top order today on the highlights, you can't carry on calling the likes of Bresnan honest county pro's - look at his bowling average! As for only doing it in England, 3 innings victories in Australia - how many other sides in the game's history have managed that?

  • Comment number 71.

    "And it's not a boring argument at all "

    Yes beardsmore it really, really is. It's been done to death, digged up again many times, and then given a few more kickings. Let it rest in peace.

    #64 Your first paragraph is mostly rubbish. As for the Ireland comment, every team has lost to a minnow at one time or another. It's meaningless. And also nothing to do with Test cricket.

  • Comment number 72.

    Today's umpire Steve Davis was born in London but I Don't think anyone would doubt his neutrality and I'm sure he considers himself a Saffer.

  • Comment number 73.

    #71 - so you're saying the argument won't go away? Perhaps then it hasn't been resolved, and there is some validity to it.

    Importing ringers leaves a sour taste in the mouth at every level of sport, in every part of the world. No use pretending that that isn't what England do, I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 74.

    I think that the team for the 1902 Edgbaston test still stands comparison with any:

    MacLaren, Fry, Tyldesley, Ranjitsinhji, Jackson, Braund, Jessop, Hirst, Lilley, Lockwood and Rhodes.

  • Comment number 75.

    #73, it doesn't go away, because people like you refuse to accept it's a bore and refuse to acknowledge it is an insult to many people around the world who are English and not born in England.

  • Comment number 76.

    Your c.1970 photo looks to me like the team that beat the Windies by 10 wickets in the 1st Test at Old Trafford in 1969. They then made 2 changes to draw the 2nd Test and a further change to win the 3rd by 30 runs. A raft of further changes to the team was made for the New Zealand series in the second half of that summer. Memory doesn't recall whether these were injury-forced changes but one of the important factors in the present team's success is consistency of selection and the willingness to stick with players going through a bad patch - Cook and Broad the most obvious in the last twelve months.

    Despite the excellent strike-rate of the present crop of pace bowlers, I find it hard to believe that they are better than a team containing Larwood, Voce, Bowes and Allen or one containing Trueman, Statham, Tyson and Bedser; or indeed Flintoff, Jones, Harmison and Hoggard.

  • Comment number 77.

    Who cares just enjoy it , media are the scurge of this world and can incite any type of nonesense comment or action. As we have seen in the last few days. Too many journos up there own a**es thinkng they know what their on about, when in fact most of them are just failed sportsman with a grudge to bear. The BBC's standard of journalism is embarrasing at the moment and makes us a laughing stock. Tax payers money completey wasted on predictable un-intellegant news coverage.
    Sorry but this kind of blogging/journalism is a disgrace and in my opinion they should al be sacked.

    Oh, and by the way this Indian crcket team is a joke. England are OK but India are borderline pathetic and an embarrassment to their country.

    That is all..

  • Comment number 78.

    Beardsmore; since you press me my concern is that the failure to advance Woakes has more to do with the fact that Ashley Giles has pressed his case for 2 years and the other selectors may be adversely reacting to that pressure rather than judging on his ability. I have nothing but praise for the likes of Bresnan and Broad, but Woakes is a much better all rounder than either and would improve the balance of the side by replacing Morgan (by providing a real 5th bowler without weakening the batting materially.

  • Comment number 79.

    Kapnag, I can't very well accept it's a bore if I don't think it is a bore. I think it's something that's pertinent to the character of international cricket. Others who don't bother themselves to think about things very much may well be bored by it but I can't answer for them.

    And once again, birthplace, as I explained in post 69, is a relatively minor detail so I don't know why it's the point you return to over and over again.

  • Comment number 80.

    Beardsmore; sorry - I forgot to add that I agree with you about the irrelevance of birthplace, but I was responding to a post which specifically asked about birthplace.

  • Comment number 81.

    The old adage is you can only beat what is put in front of you.
    The problem is, with the exception of South Africa, the rest of the test sides are simply not up to scratch. Whilst the current side has a fantastic work ethic it is not a naturally gifted bunch (KP excepted). The Gatting era succeeded (sometimes) with a side brimming with natural talent & took on some great test teams. I'm afraid test cricket is not what it used to be.

  • Comment number 82.

    @72 - I don't know where he was born, but I understand he considers himself (and certainly the commentary team consider him) an Aussie not a saffer! At least the commentary team have made quite a play of all three officials for this test being Aussies

  • Comment number 83.

    interesting thread, any thoughts about this lot:

    Hammond
    Gooch
    Gower
    Barrington
    Compton
    Jardine (Capt)...you all know why!
    Botham
    Knott
    Underwood
    Larwood
    Trueman

    Frank Tyson for Underwood on a "lively" wicket

    And because India are such a shower this time round. how about this line-up

    Gavaskar
    Vengsarkar
    Azarhuddin
    Dravid
    Tendulkar
    Ganguly (Captain)
    Kirmani
    KapilDev
    Srinath
    Bishen Bedi
    Anil Kumble

    presume series played in England. Now THAT'S a series to dream about!



  • Comment number 84.

    alb1on, thanks for your answer - sorry to be a nag. Woakes looked outstanding in Australia and obviously has the potential to become an excellent international cricketer (if he isn't one already). He is very young, so I suppose if he is patient he will get his chance when clown-in-chief Miller and some of the current England management and players move on.

  • Comment number 85.

    #81, you say that, but I don't remember too many people playing down Australia's achievements from the mid 90's onwards. We're told this is a batsman's game these days, yet this England team have been running through sides consistently for 18 months now. How many scores of 400+ have they conceeded, not many. Some of these deliveries this morning would have got anyone out.

  • Comment number 86.

    Agreed Kapnag - but could you see someone like Bell, Morgan, Prior making runs against Waqar, Marshall, Holding, Wasim, Ambrose, Walsh etc al? Very doubtful.

  • Comment number 87.

    #84, I go back to it because your first comment on it was:

    #17 - Trott and Pietersen are simply South Africans. That's the bottom line. Born & raised there and you can hear it in every word they say. No doubt they've improved their game since coming to England - you would expect any professional cricketer in their 20s to do so. But they are South Africans. (And there's no such thing as an English passport btw).


    you are clearly saying they are South Africans, because there's no such thing as an English passport. You make the point that they were born and raised there, and now you're saying "oh I know it's a minor point". Didn't seem minor earlier on.

    When they have raised a family here, they've spent a decade playing cricket here, they are representing English cricket. Their families have plenty of English history.

  • Comment number 88.

    Agreed Kapnag - but could you see someone like Bell, Morgan, Prior making runs against Waqar, Marshall, Holding, Wasim, Ambrose, Walsh etc al? Very doubtful.

    ===

    That is true, and this is perhaps where they say it is a batsman's game, but I think Bell has the class these days to play them, and Prior, who knows. Bell has got some good runs against the likes of Morkel and Steyn, and they aren't bad bowlers, and of course, Australia's batsmen didn't have to face Warne & McGrath during the 2000's. We haven't been able to see too many bowlers, because too many roads have been prepared. I believe more result pitches are being sought after, you'll see more challenging bowling conditions.

  • Comment number 89.

    Batting talent Mike Gatting in 1981, lol.
    52,15,59,16,15,1,21,39,32,11,53,56 - hardly Bradmanesque.
    Gatt was never a world class Test batsman. He was a good
    England captain and top county batsman but to equate him to
    Gower and Gooch is far too optimistic. True he scored more runs than them in that particular series but he averaged only 30.83 in the Ashes of 1981. Both Boycott and Botham scored more runs. Gatt's test average of less than 36
    is simply in another league (one) to Gooch's (Championship) and Gower's (Premiership) 43 and 44 respectively.

  • Comment number 90.

    Who cares where their from if they are good get em in. This is borderline racism. They are representing our country and doing a good job of it. If you dont like it dont watch, even better grab a bat and out perform them. Dribble dribble dribble...yawn.

    That is all...

  • Comment number 91.

    "Others who don't bother themselves to think about things very much may well be bored by it but I can't answer for them."

    How very pretentious of you. It has been thought about, discussed and rehashed for years. Decades even. Some refuse to let it go, even though there is nothing new to say.

    "clown-in-chief Miller "?? Miller and the others seem to be doing, and have been doing, a pretty good job the last couple of years. Woakes hardly looked outstanding in Australia. He was decent though and is definitely a decent prospect for the future.

  • Comment number 92.

    I am a saffer, who moved to England when I was in my early 20's, primarily because it was easier to get a job in the UK than it was in my native SA, I worked in London, after 5 years I got a British passport, and after 10 years I moved back to SA. What I (and thousands of others saffers did and still do) was no different to the numerous saffers playing cricket and other sport in the UK. The only difference is that in their chosen career the highest promotion involves wearing an England cap instead of being a director of a swiss bank. Good luck to Trott, KP, Kieswetter and the other saffer cricketers. A saffer mate of mine played rugby for england a few years back, but that doesn't make him any less South African, and now that he has retired, supports the boks when they play england.

  • Comment number 93.

    Fallenfaith; I am sorry but your expectations of a young player are obviously different from mine. In his first 20/20 Woakes comes in and guides England to victory with the bat, including hitting Tait harder than he has ever been hit before (Taits words not mine). Then he returns and takes a 6 for bowling in his ODI. What more do you want - especially from a player who, as I have said, is more suited to test play than the one day game.

  • Comment number 94.

    Kapnag, I'm not saying they are South Africans BECAUSE of passports (which I mentioned "by the way", i.e. in passing). Passports are nothing but travel documents and can be issued to anyone for all kinds of reasons. Birthplace is a minor detail, as I've explained, but growing up and learning your cricket in a country is not a minor detail. Anyway, if you don't have even the slightest qualm about importing a player who has already represented his home country in international cricket then we are obviously poles apart on the issue and unlikely to find any common ground.

    Saintdan - race has nothing to do with the debate so your allegation of "borderline racism" is completely unfounded.

    fallenfaith - there is nothing new to say because the issue remains the same. Raising valid points that are never satisfactorily addressed is not "refusing to let it go". And Miller gave us Darren Pattinson - little more need be said. Theoretical question - if the England team consisted one day of eleven imported players, would it bother you then? Or would it still be a case of move on, nothing to see here?

  • Comment number 95.

    Kpanag - Bell didnt score a run against McGrath.

  • Comment number 96.

    Kpanag - Bell didnt score a run against McGrath.

    ==

    Give him a break, he is a different player - and he also fared better than most on the 2007 tour - got some decent runs down there.

    #94 - when you say "Trott and Pietersen are simply South Africans. That's the bottom line. Born & raised there and you can hear it in every word they say.", and then try to say that this is just a minor point, you come across rather silly. When you try to re-phrase your argument as these players just coming over here cos they can't get a game in South Africa, you're talking nonsense again. Trott came here to play for Warwickshire and through hard graft and working at his game in England, he has become an excellent test player for England - does that not count towards growing up in the country, improving your game? KP would have got in the South Africa side, but he moved here and spent 4 years playing cricket before making his England debut.

  • Comment number 97.

    94: This topic crops up in all sports blogs it seems. What do you suggest the rules be then? As long as England aren't breaking the rules, and everyone is playing to he same rules then the topic really is boring.

  • Comment number 98.

    @beardsmoreforengland - fair enough maybe its facism then. either way it dont sit right with me that anyone can sit and comment on someones rights to do something especially when they are extremely talented. I am more than happy of how English cricket is being represented, we are a multinational country(which i think is the greatest thing about this country) and our sports teams are as well. If you got talent get your butt over to England as we have nothing but wasters in this country and I would gladly swap the lot of em.

    That is all.....

  • Comment number 99.

    Kapnag - you cant give Bell a break, thats pathetic - would you say the same for other players who had to deal with quality fast bowling in the 70s, 80s & 90s? Of course not.
    All I'm saying is that a few of the current batting line up would have & have been found out against true quality fast bowling, so lets not carried away with our current bunch of hard working players - they can only play what they are given.

  • Comment number 100.

    Pathetic? It was his first major series! He has been outsanding the last 2 years!

 

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