Chris Rushworth will never play for England. Jamie Porter could do if James Anderson ever retires. Ben Coad might do in the years to come.
The above players are often dismissed as horses for courses. It’s said that they bowl well in England but won’t elsewhere. Well, England play half their games in England and James Anderson himself has shown that players can develop and perform overseas. Remember as well, that while James Anderson is considered great, he was selected at a young age and persevered with despite averaging over forty five years into his international career. He was allowed to become great. Toby Roland-Jones briefly displayed that a player who had honed their skills at domestic level could make a worthy contribution when selected at a slightly more ripe age.
Rushworth, Porter and Coad are not three-dimensional cricketers. They may not even be two-dimensional and tend to be pigeon holed as long format specialists… well, at domestic level anyway. They may actually be more than reasonable white-ball bowlers but are often preserved by Durham, Essex and Yorkshire respectively for four-day affairs.
Said players have not necessarily taken the usual route to first team regularity or potential England recognition. They have consistently performed however and in Porter’s case, similar to Anderson, have overcome serious injury hurdles. It’s unlikely that any of these players would let England down or be woefully out of their depth if at least provided a few games. Of course anybody can have a quiet debut.
As mentioned, for Rushworth, it won’t happen but for Porter and Coad, though they may seem way down the pecking order at present, the chance could yet come. Of course the opportunity to play any cricket would help their cause!
Imagine that England’s cricketers have gone on strike. They’re upset about that car sponsorship deal ending or they all want to play in the new Kazakhstan T20 league. England’s selectors are reluctant to return to players that’ve failed to produce the goods at international level before. They decide to select an extremely experienced squad so ignore the likes of Ollie Pope, Joe Clarke and Sam Curran amongst others. The below is what an England Test squad might then look like.
Sam Northeast (Captain)
John Simpson (Wicketkeeper)
Ben Brown (Wicketkeeper)
I’ve selected Northeast as captain so as not to burden either of my openers, Adams and Mitchell who make for a strong left-hand/right-hand combo. Hildreth is at four ahead of Stevens and Barker who provide all-round options with Barker’s left-arm variety essential. Simpson dons the gloves meanwhile Patterson and Rushworth take the new ball backed up by Fletcher as well as Barker and Stevens. Spin options are a bit limited but Luke Wells makes the touring party as spin back-up to Ollie Rayner. Steven Mullaney makes the squad as 12th man, providing strong all-round cover with bat and ball.
As well as Wells and Mullaney, Wessels and Harris provide a good variety of cover. Brown backs up behind the stumps whilst Wessels is also an emergency ‘keeping option.
Top order bat Chris Nash who can bowl decent spin and dependable all-rounder Joe Leach are officially on stand-by.
Disclaimer: The likes of Rory Burns, Benny Howell and Tom Bailey are among the unfortunate omissions. Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sam Hain, Liam Norwell, Lewis Gregory, Jamie Porter and Ben Coad join that list but I was generally plucking for the most experienced players.