Thirty-three England players have been selected to tour Australia this winter, spread across two squads. There may of course be some interchangeability between the Performance squad and the Ashes squad, even if the 17 names picked for the latter would suggest all bases are covered already. But nonetheless, there will be some players angry, disappointed and sad to be overlooked, even if it does mean they’ll have the chance to appear in pantomime. Or go to the panto, in some of the lesser cases.
But what if 11 of the notable omissions clubbed together, hired a small plane (or a big one, if only to fit in Nick Compton’s smile) and flew to Australia themselves? What’s more, imagine if they purchased their own kit from a street market whilst having a stopover in Bangkok (there’s nothing else to do in that city, after all)? And then, if in some bizarre turns of event, possibly involving a padlock, 16 crates of strong lager, a fake beard and some irate bouncers, the 33 original choices all found themselves trapped in a cellar without mobile phone reception? Would England’s fourth choice XI be able to give the Aussies a game at the Gabba? There’s only one way to find out….speculate in a really sarcastic manner!
Nick Compton has two Test centuries and has scored consistently for Somerset in a particularly difficult season. At the other end, Chris Nash has scored 1,103 first-class runs this year in a good Sussex team; having been a regular for seven seasons at Hove, hence we suspect he’d be reliable in an international shirt.
Some of us, particularly those born and bred in the East Midlands, would say that James Taylor deserves to be in the Ashes squad. He’d be ideal in the middle order of this team, as would his county teammate Samit Patel (1,059 runs this season). Oh for the days when the Man of the Match in the Lord’s domestic limited overs final would get himself a place on the plane! Thirdly, for reasons of both love and lust, it’d be great to see Paul Collingwood back for a final time. His run-making may no longer be what it was once (and three years ago, it wasn’t a lot either), but as captain of this side we think he’d offer much needed guile, gumption and gingerness, as shown in taking Durham to their latest Championship.
James Foster scored more than 800 runs this season, along with the small matter of 49 dismissals from behind the stumps. His England career finished a long time ago, but come on: he’s bloody brilliant isn’t he?
We could pick the steady hand of James Tredwell or the young but overlooked Scott Borthwick. The latter has turned himself into a batsman these days, scoring more than 1,000 runs this year to accompany his 31 wickets. We’d see
no only some problems with him and Patel bowling to the likes of Phil Hughes – and probably taking as many wickets as Ashton Agar would, if not Nathan Lyon.
Tim Bresnan, Graham Onions and Chris Woakes have 100 Test wickets between them. We’re 66.67% confident that they’d do reasonably well.
With 42 wickets, a pair of half-centuries and more importantly having played a part in three Test match victories in his career, isn’t it time Liam Plunkett received a call from Geoff Miller?
The Australia team at the Gabba will be:-
Rogers (older than Compton with fewer Test centuries), Warner (as many Test centuries this year as Nash), Watson (erratic, nuts), Clarke* (lumbago), Smith (hero), Hughes (crap), Haddin+ (aging), Johnson (inevitable), Siddle (vegan), Lyon (fine) and Other (not injured).
Therefore, with a fair wind, a bit of luck and some old fashioned cheating, there’s no reason why the XI of Compton, Nash, Taylor, Collingwood*, Patel, Borthwick, Foster+, Woakes, Bresnan, Plunkett and Onions (12th man: Tredwell) couldn’t get a result. Although we’re sure that the bastard ECB still wouldn’t pick Onions.