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

England Lions: The Next Unlikely Lads

Posted on February 25, 2013 by in Opinion

In 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono released their ‘difficult’ second ‘album’, entitled Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions. It includes Yoko screaming, unlistenable guitar feedback, their dying unborn baby’s heartbeat and a song called Two Minute Silence which was precisely that. An appropriate analogy therefore, for the current England Lions tour of Australia.

John and Yoko send 51allout a message about Rikki Clarke.

John and Yoko send 51allout a message about Rikki Clarke.

The England Lions – or England A as they used to be known – is supposedly a mix of the England reserves and the most promising young cricketers in the county scene. The current squad however, is worryingly thin on quality – as evidenced by their recent results against the last eleven uninjured ockers in Australia. But there is a reason for this – and that is because the proper England team these days are familiar with the concept of squad rotation and with different squads for each of the three formats, there are plenty of opportunities at the top level for those players who previously might have been restricted to the Lions. Hence 25 players (by a quick list written on the peeled label from a bottle of Indian lager) have represented the proper England team this winter alone.

On this site we like to revel in the mediocre, not least in our Unlikely Lads series. But which players will be the next generation of Ian Salisburys and Amjad Khans? Here we look at the current Lions squad and appraise their chances of making the grade within the next few years. And with our record of predicting things, what could possibly go wrong?

Some people at 51allout still think this man is the future of English cricket.

Some people at 51allout still think this man is the future of English cricket.

James Taylor – already capped in the Test and ODI side, even if for now he has been overtaken by Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. Too talented not to be reselected and probably too talented to be an Unlikely Lad.

Gary Ballance – a long way from the full England team, not even the backing of the Yorkshire media mafia would get him picked.

Scott Borthwick – has played two ODIs and one T20, but has now drifted to the murky sidelines. Needs some good seasons for Durham to be considered again.

Danny Briggs – the future, certainly in limited overs cricket. But then again, so was Adil Rashid.

Varun Chopra – hard to see a compelling case for him to be selected, given the emergence of Root and the handsomeness of Nick Compton.

Rikki Clarke – hasn’t played for England since 2006. The most unlikely of Unlikely Lads, we’d rather listen to John Lennon’s more experimental stuff than see Clarke back in the side.

Matthew Coles – very promising and with the ability to both bat and bowl, he may well find himself selected sometime in the next few years – although being sent home from Australia for disciplinary reasons won’t help his cause.

Ben Foakes – far too young to be in serious contention, not least because England have already got four wicket-keepers in and around the main squads.

Alex Hales – T20 superstar in the making (absence from the IPL notwithstanding). Would potentially play for England in the 50-over side against a lesser nation like Scotland (or Australia LOL!!) but no chance of a Test match cap for a while.

Simon Kerrigan – another young spinner who needs consistency at county level to leapfrog his rivals.

Stuart Meaker – a splendid drinks carrier, few others rival his skill at carrying a crate of lucozade bottles whilst running to the square. Also excellent at fetching replacement gloves, bats, helmets and other batting paraphernalia.

Has anyone seen this man?

Has anyone seen this man?

Craig Overton – highly regarded, but let’s face it, England aren’t going to be selecting a player who’s not yet 19. Expect him to debut in 2021.

Toby Roland-Jones – a bowler who seems to be getting better and better, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see him in an England squad some time soon, especially if there are a few injuries.

Ben Stokes – we dream of a Stokes/Woakes/Foakes combination for England even more than we dream of dating Jessica Ennis; sadly, the chances of the former are smaller than the latter.

Reece Topley – a decent left-handed quick bowler would be a lovely addition to the England pace arsenal. The Essex boy has just turned 19, but who else is there, apart from Ryan bloody Sidebottom?

James Vince – seems to have been around for ages, but as with other middle-order batsmen, they’ll have to wait until Pietersen, Bell and Trott all retire in the same month before they get a chance.

Chris Wright – would only get a chance to play for England if an ex-Warwickshire player was a selector or coach. We’ll start drafting his Unlikely Lad entry now then, and what better soundtrack than this?






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25 Feb 2013 16:38

Ooh, all the depth of comedy article, but without the jokes.


Nichael Bluth

25 Feb 2013 15:33

I made it about 104 seconds into that video before I had to give up.