A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

England Ladder: Test Matches

Posted on September 10, 2012 by in Opinion, Tests

Our last England Ladder was published in May, when the post-winter depression was giving way to summery optimism. Now, following pissloads of rain, Tino Best and the South Africans pillaging the mace from England’s grasp, it is time to take a look forward; firstly with some trepidation, to a tour of India and then, a hopefully smooth trip to New Zealand. With continuing uncertainty over Kevin Pietersen and doubts over dressing room harmony, this latest England ladder has been difficult to prepare.

Oh, you may also have heard that Andrew Strauss chose to retire from the game as well.

If only Cook had been so manly when facing Vernon Philander, eh?

  1. Alastair Cook (unchanged) Greetings to the new skipper. Cook has been the first name on the team sheet, metaphorically at least, since the middle of last summer; now, sooner than expected, his initials are inked in before anyone else, complete with the asterisk that denotes so much more than the man who calls heads or tails.
  2. Matt Prior (+2) So consistent with the gloves that his missed chances really do stand out. In a summer where the batsmen largely went missing, his contribution with the bat became ever more vital. Rightly has been selected in the ICC Test XI for the year.
  3. Jimmy Anderson (unchanged) England’s most consistent bowler this summer. With more luck (do dropped chances and missed edges really count as luck though?), his figures would have been much better.
  4. Graeme Swann (-2) It was a poor series for Swanny, who is troubled by his damaged elbow and who didn’t even play at Headingley. In the past when his chips have been down, he’s bounced back; those chips are arguably lower than they’ve been since his Test debut and with surgery unlikely before the India tour, it could require some kind of supertrampoline to get Swann back to his undeniable best.
  5. Jonathan Trott (+2) Trott will quite possibly be Cook’s opening partner against India; his return against South Africa included two half centuries but were not the rock solid performances he can normally be relied upon to deliver.
  6. Ian Bell (+3) His rise back up the ladder is almost entirely due to Strauss’s retirement and Pietersen’s misdemeanors. England absolutely must have Bell back to his best if they are to succeed against India. Will Bell’s shoulders be strong enough to carry the youthful middle order?
  7. Stuart Broad (+1) Is he destined to bowl at his best just one match a series? We’d rather England play with rather than without him, but at some point the Graeme Onions juggernaut might just crush Broad as if he were a badger attempting to cross the A14.
  8. Steven Finn (+4) Mightily impressive some days but frustratingly inconsistent on others, Finn should have a promising career ahead of him. Having stopped falling over after delivery, and hopefully having stopped kneeing the stumps, can he find the rhythm required to fulfill the potential?
  9. Kevin Pietersen (-4) More ink has been used writing about Pietersen in recent weeks than in the collected works of Shakespeare, Tolstoy and Cartland. If 51allout had done well in its English Lit studies, we’d compare him to some great literary character, plagued with inner tumoil, constantly tripping between comedy, tragedy and barefaced ego. Sadly, as can be seen from our frequent misuse of the apostrophe, our English teacher used to top up her coffee mug with gin and as a result the only fictional character we recall from books is the Very Hungry Caterpillar. Meaning that one day Pietersen will become a butterfly, or something.
  10. Jonny Bairstow (+5) England’s quest to have at least one redhead in every team they pick continues. Bairstow deserves credit for his performances at Lord’s after his disappointing experiences against the West Indies. Enough runs, albeit in a losing cause, to be looking down the ladder at James Taylor. Hope Jonny has binoculars.
  11. Tim Bresnan (-1) The main victim of South Africa’s series victory; Bresnan averaged 139.00 and 18.50, in the process experiencing his first Test match defeat, thus dampening the talk of being some kind of undefeatable, all-round genius. No doubt that he will still have a role to play but he’ll want to forget his underwhelming summer.
  12. Graeme Onions (-1) Although the players outside the team are invariably considered to be the equivalent of the sum of Sobers, Bradman and Lillee, Onions really has shone all season, taking 70 first-class wickets at 13.55. If he wasn’t such a good egg, we suspect he’d be making voodoo dolls in the shape of Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan.
  13. James Taylor (+1) After a good first Test and a poor second one, Taylor’s still got a lot of expectation on his little shoulders. Certain to feature again, some sunny day.
  14. Samit Patel (unchanged) Not a lot of runs, not a lot of wickets. Still, at the time of writing he is officially the current 118th best all-rounder in Test cricket.
  15. Monty Panesar (+1) Invariably found near the top of the county bowling averages, expect to see him feature in India, even if only wearing a high-visibility tabard.
  16. Ravi Bopara (-5) Who knows what is going on with Bopara. He seems destined to not so much drop the baton whenever he’s passed it, but throw it down the loo, pull the flush and chuck a firework in the pan just in case. And still get picked.
  17. Eoin Morgan (unchanged) Averaging 19.00 , with two half centuries from ten innings. Not too bad at the T20 wacaday lark though.
  18. Craig Kieswetter (+4) Second in the first-class averages and two handsome innings against Australia A suggest Old Iron Gloves might be rewarded with a call-up to the Test squad.
  19. Alex Hales (+1) Hardly setting the County Championship on fire, but as an opener and one who has performed admirably in another form of the game for England, we judge that he’s got more chance of selection than some middle order bats with better records (e.g. James Hildreth).
  20. Steven Davies (-1) With an average in the low 20s, Davies has probably slipped down the ladder at the expense of Kieswetter.
  21. James Tredwell (NE) Just 23 wickets so far this season, at a poor average, but his selection for the Lions and limited overs squads suggests he is still being watched by Geoff Miller and co.
  22. Steven Kerrigan (NE) A splendid return for the Lions against the boys from Down Under mean Kerrigan might be leading the pack of young spinners hoping for selection – but it’s probably too early for him.
  23. Chris Woakes (RE) If he can remain injury-free, he is destined to be close to the squad – even though his batting record in 2012 outweighs his bowling.
  24. Stuart Meaker (-3) More than twice as many wickets as his county colleague Jade Dernbach.
  25. Michael Carberry (+1) Editor Steve wants him on the ladder, ergo, he’s on the ladder.
  26. Nick Compton (+1) Head and shoulders above anyone else in the first-class averages, but has the air of a one season wonder about him.
  27. Chris Tremlett (+1) One first-class match, one first-class wicket. Sadly, we can’t see him adding to his 11 Test caps.
  28. Joe Root (-5) Averaging 45.80 this season, but general consensus is that it’s still too soon for him to be selected for England.
  29. Ben Stokes (RE) Averaging more than with the bat than with the ball this season, could Stokes be the new Bresnan? Seriously though, with the question of balancing the side once again to the fore, there may be a place for an all-rounder. And he’s ginger. Always pick the ginger.
  30. Saj Mahmood (unchanged) Maybe, just maybe, his move to Somerset will finally catch the selectors’ hitherto myopic eyes.

With hindsight, this tortuously bad analogy would have worked better with Samit Patel.


Post a Comment


James Knight

11 Sep 2012 12:49

I wish we’d done that.


Mark N

10 Sep 2012 20:27

Very disappointed to see Team Unity hasn’t been included in the ladder…