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

Life In The Margins: England’s Nearly Men

Posted on February 10, 2013 by in Opinion, Tests


Life with Team England is rather rosy at the moment. The Test series win in India, their first since before anyone we know was born, erased many of the doubts that had sprung up during an otherwise insipid 2012. Series defeats to Pakistan and South Africa, plus a draw in Sri Lanka, had rather scuppered their attempt to settle at the top of the Test rankings but the victory in India has set England up for a potentially colossal 2013, in which they have back to back series against Tim Southee, followed by back to back series against Michael Clarke.

But talking about success isn’t really the 51allout way. Instead, we prefer to focus on the negatives, being the miserable bunch of bastards that we are. Hence instead of talking about those players that led England to their remarkable series win, we wanted to talk about those players who didn’t contribute, those who carried drinks or just watched on the TV. Wouldn’t their story be much more interesting? Hopefully the answer is yes, because we’re going to have a look at a few of them right now:

Eoin Morgan

It’s now been over a year since Eoin Morgan last played Test cricket, during the dismal series in the UAE in which he averaged below 14 and generally lurched around the crease like the work experience boy after we made him snort gin. No-one doubts that he’s a talented player but it seems as if the five day game may now have passed him by. In the interim England have had a look at the likes of Jonny Bairstow, James Taylor, Joe Root, Nick Compton and Samit Patel, with what we’ll politely call mixed results. There’s no doubt that Bairstow is ahead in the battle of the gingers but Root’s fantastically mature debut performance caught the eye of everyone who could be bothered to get up at 4am to watch the world’s most boring Test match.

For Morgan, the only path back into the Test side may be if Root comes in at the top of the order and one of the settled middle order breaks a finger. But even then there’s still a question of the balance of the side – against New Zealand England might prefer to experiment with Chris Woakes at number seven and move Matt Prior up to six. Or even use Samit Patel, just to give us some new fat joke material for the Twitter feed.

Chances of playing Test cricket again: slim. Even with an epidemic of broken fingers or several batsmen dying in bizarre gardening accidents (that are best left unsolved), England seem to have moved on from Eoin Morgan. This leaves him free to practice sitting down for the duration of the IPL, earning a large wodge of cash in the process. Everyone wins, apart from the poor nurse who has to remove vast numbers of splinters from his arse.

Eoin Morgan has called for England to take the attack to Sri Lanka's spinners

Eoin Morgan practices his sitting down.

Chris Tremlett

We love everything about Chris Tremlett. And we mean everything. Tall, strong, handsome and with a hug that probably makes you feel safer than you’ve ever felt before, he’s also quite good at bowling. Sadly, one thing he’s not so good at is not being crippled all the time. Last seen in an England shirt during the aforementioned series in Dubai (where England went with just one spinner for the first Test, a mistake that was blatantly clear within ten minutes and yet was repeated wholesale in India), Tremlett has spent the majority of the time since flat on his back. And not in a sexy way.

However, there’s recently been talk in the press of Tremlett being fully fit and raring to go for the new county season. If he does actually get and stay fit it’s not impossible that he could find his way back into the England squad at some point. He’s tailor made for Australian conditions and was the surprise star of England’s 2011/11 Ashes win. A repeat performance isn’t beyond the realms of fancy, even if England are rather well stocked for quick bowlers.

Chances of playing Test cricket again: unlikely, but not impossible. If Stuart Broad continues to break down as regularly as the 51allout company car there may well be a vacancy for a tall handsome quick to roll over the Aussie top order.

Not that sort of streak Chris!

Some pictures don’t really need captions.

James Tredwell

While Australians relentlessly work themselves into a rabid frenzy over rotation (or Informed Player Management if you like talking in management buzzwords), England have just gone ahead and done a very similar thing with no fuss whatsoever. In the interests of having a rest, Graeme Swann has missed both England’s ODI series in India and their T20 series in New Zealand. In his absence James Tredwell has been England’s star bowler, being tidy and economical while still picking up wickets. Basically the complete opposite of Samit Patel.

Unfortunately for Tredwell, his chances of adding to his solitary Test cap look very slim. Again, the complete opposite of Samit Patel. England have found some success in continental conditions with a two man spin attack but are unlikely to use that setup in New Zealand, at home or in Australia. With Swann, Panesar and (probably) Patel all ahead of him, Tredwell has no chance. Unless, of course, England’s three all-stars fall victim to three separate misfortunes and are unable to play. But that will never happen. One misfortune, that’s possible. Two misfortunes, there’s an outside chance. But three misfortunes? We’d like to see that.

Chances of playing Test cricket again: Somewhere pretty close to none.

James Tredwell and Andy Flower talk tactics.

James Tredwell and Andy Flower discuss tactics. And hats.

Graham Onions

A popular man he may be (amongst both cricket fans and rubbish pop singers) but the fact remains that Graham Onions has played a single Test in the last three years. And yet, of all our sorry bunch of misfits, he is the one most likely to feature this year. Onions’ problem is that he’s firmly typecast in the role of Jimmy Anderson’s understudy. As England’s number one bowler, if Anderson is fit he plays. And thankfully he always seems to be fit (in more ways than one). Unfortunately that means that Onions doesn’t play.

Like everybody else (bar Paul McCartney, who has remained unchanged since about 1971) James Anderson is getting older. Therefore we reckon there will come a point when he either suffers a slight injury or is rested for a Test or two (quite possibly against New Zealand), leading to a well-deserved Onions reappearance.

Chances of playing Test cricket again: It will happen. Believe. It’s certainly more likely than Lily Allen ever making a decent record.

We really have no explanation for this. Lookalikes?

Two entirely unconnected people, only one of whom looks like a hippo with makeup on.

Stuart Meaker

To be honest, we’re not sure that Stuart Meaker actually exists. Or, in a plot twist lifted entirely from the most recent series of Doctor Who, he used to exist but has been travelling around time erasing himself from history. That would probably make more sense than taking him to India and not picking him, while Jade Dernbach spent the entire tour taking the sort of beating normally reserved for the work experience boy.

Chances of playing Test cricket ever: start with minus infinity. And then take a bit off.

The Brad Haddin lithograph

Something about Stuart Meaker’s publicity photo just didn’t quite add up for us.

Jade Dernbach

It would be funny for England to pick Jade Dernbach in their Test squad, if only for the sight of us getting thrown off Twitter for excessive relentless foul language. Luckily, it isn’t going to happen. Or at least it better f**king not.

Chances of playing Test cricket ever: lol.



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Nichael Bluth

11 Feb 2013 03:18

England have three tests in the West Indies in April 2015, so they might use two spinners there. Other than that they’re in Pakistan (or the UAE) in October 2015. So nothing for two and a half years, by which time there should be a whole new generation competing for a place.



11 Feb 2013 03:10

I reckon what Tredwell needs for another cap is spin friendly conditions (so that we play two slow bowlers) and an injury to Swann.

Swann and Tredwell are a bit too similar to play together (and Tredwell has said similar), and likewise with Monty and Patel, so it had to be Swann that gets knacked. Although he is 30 already and when do we go to the subcontinent next?