England Uncapped XI

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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.

First XI

James Adams

Daryl Mitchell

Sam Northeast (Captain)

James Hildreth

Darren Stevens

Keith Barker

John Simpson (Wicketkeeper)

Ollie Rayner

Luke Fletcher

Steve Patterson

Chris Rushworth

12th Man

Steven Mullaney

Tourists

Luke Wells

Riki Wessels

Ben Brown (Wicketkeeper)

James Harris

Stand By

Chris Nash

Joe Leach

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.

No Buzz Without Woody!

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If the buzz is to be believed, England are set to turn to Durham’s Mark Wood in the hope that his ‘express’ pace can help them stay competitive in the Ashes. Because one wicket in two Tests earlier this year and an inability to make it through a Test match without injury really cries out ‘Saviour’!

England’s best bowlers are already on the pitch. They just need to bowl better. Their performances in the second innings of the second Test suggest they’ve cottoned onto that fact.

Surrey’s Tom Curran is in the squad and along with Liam Plunkett and Mark Footitt, I’d have them in the team sooner than I would, err… Wood! I’d have re-integrated Footitt earlier this season and couldn’t care less that Plunkett rarely dons whites for Yorkshire. Hell I’d pick Joe Leach and Steve Patterson before Wood! I’ll back any player that wears England colours but Mark Wood is not the great hope. England seem to be in the habit of letting themselves gain the impression that the player who is absent is their star command!

Best bowlers bowl better + Batsman bat better = Competitiveness

I don’t mean to sound too harsh regarding Wood but he’s not Allan Donald is he?

Having said all that, if Woody travels lightyears, rocks up in Perth and claims 7-43 then I’ll be more than happy to eat pie with extra generous dollops of humble!

‘To infinity and beyond!’