We’ve done several England ladders before but they have all been for the Test team, which is (usually) much easier to call. Once upon a time we did attempt an ODI ladder, but the sheets of paper we were using to try and work it out covered the entire 51allout office much to Editor Steve’s fury and the excel spreadsheet that followed caused the laptop to blow up. Nonetheless, the recently finished series against Australia gives us the perfect opportunity to give it a go – and with less than 18 months to go until the next World Cup we will endeavour to present at least a Volume 2. Unlike George Michael’s Listen Without Prejudice, the lazy git.
1. Graeme Swann If we have learned anything from this summer, it is that England’s spinning stocks aren’t quite what we once believed. Assuming he can stay fit enough, the inevitable World Cup quarter-final defeat will be a fitting climax to Swann’s ODI career.
2. Alastair Cook Were we considering him just as a batsman, he’d be pencilled in to this ladder. But as he’s captain, we’ve had to get out the ink. Not literally of course, we’re not that stupid.
3. James Anderson Some would choose not to play Anderson in limited overs in order to prolong his Test career. However we can’t see either England or himself deciding not to play ODIs ahead of the World Cup. Although far from regular, he has the best average and economy of the main senior fast bowlers.
4. Stuart Broad Fitness is always a concern with Broad, but in 12 months time, when ODIs become the priority, he’ll no doubt be key to England’s plans.
5. Eoin Morgan His fanclub have probably lost a lot of members over the past year, such has been his form, but he at times showed that he can still score runs against Australia. If he can put together a run of scores to match his reputation, his semi-permanent place in the side will be justified.
6. Ravi Bopara The only people in the country who seemed to want Bopara to play were fortunately employed by the ECB. Doubts about him still nag us, but his all-round ability secures his place in the side. The sort of player who would cost as much as the reserve Zimbabwean wicket-keeper in fantasy cricket competitions, but would actually score a billion points.
7. Kevin Pietersen England have a not unpleasant dilemma, insofar as they’ve four very good batsmen competing for, at most, three places in the team. It’s hard to predict whether Pietersen will still be around in four months’ time let alone 18, but he’s the most probable opener alongside Cook. Stat alert: Pietersen has scored just three ODI hundreds in the last five years.
8. Ian Bell Ahead of Jonathan Trott in this ladder because he is able to open with Cook or bat lower down. The day England finally decide what Bell’s ODI role should be, will be the day after he eventually retires.
9. Jonathan Trott His average and his strike-rate have been discussed so often that they’re probably dinner party conversation topics once people have done with fracking, Ed Milliband and fucking baking.
10. Steven Finn More secure of his place in this format than in Tests. Probably because 10 overs gives fewer chances for him to kick the stumps down, fall over, bowl rank long-hops or change his action.
11. Jos Buttler His form with the bat against Australia suggests that the wicket-keeping/No. 7 position is his. As does the fact that his serious rivals have mostly been utter dogshit this season.
12. Joe Root If everyone is fit, we reckon it’s young Joe ’90 who’ll have to don the hi-vis tabard. However his pragmatic batting (and occasional off-spin) mean that he is guaranteed first reserve.
13. Boyd Rankin He impressed better people than us within his venomous bowling in the recent series. Colour us surprised, humbled and looking like a complete raving idiot.
14. Tim Bresnan Oh Timothy Thomas, with your big bear hugs, your 15 tog chest and your frequent injuries. We’ll be honest, we can’t remember whether he’s good or bad at the moment.
15. Jonny Bairstow Last time he batted in a match, Stuart Hall was still a national treasure.
16. Ben Stokes His stock is rising faster than Sherpa Tenzing’s oxo cubes.
17. James Taylor He scored 585 runs in the YB40 this season, at an average of 73.12. But give it another six months and literally no-one will remember who this guy is, not least anyone working at the ECB. Which is a shame, as the Fire & Rain gag is one of our default jokes.
Maybe we could do a Jellyman Kelly joke instead, whilst we still have the chance.
18. James Tredwell Australia took a fancy to his bowling and he looked a broken man. It doesn’t bode well for his future, but (un)fortunately, there’s no-one else to turn to if Swann is injured.
19. Luke Wright England wouldn’t be England if they didn’t pick an all-rounder who got out very quickly and who didn’t bowl. To give Wright credit, it’s a job that he excels at.
20. Gary Ballance Someone up there likes him. Let us be the first to anti-jinx him by saying we’re not sure what the hell the selectors see in him, compared with Taylor for example.
21. Jade Dernbach Hanging around the verges of the team like a badly-tattooed hitchhiker at South Mimms service station.
22. Danny Briggs See last year. See next year.
23. Chris Woakes Well he plays for the right county in terms of getting further caps.
24. Chris Jordan His debut went reasonably well. If he continues to improve, he could easily rise to no. 21 on this ladder.
25. Scott Borthwick Another forgotten man, but his improvements have mostly come in first-class cricket.
26. Samit Patel Man of the match in the YB40 final and a consistent season for Nottinghamshire. We can only think Ashley Giles forgot what name he saved his phone number under. We suggest Gilo looks under Kelly, Jellyman.
27. Michael Carberry As nice as it was to see him play for England again, and what’s more, score a half-century, it was still a surprise to see him selected in the Ashes squad. His strength is definitely in limited overs cricket, so there’s still a chance of more games. Just a very slim one, given the calibre of the batsmen ahead of him.
28. Craig Kieswetter We guess that he’s still third choice ‘keeper; Buttler’s departure from Somerset will help him. His dodgy glovework won’t.
29. Jamie Overton Promises much, but it’s far too early for him.
30. Peter Trego 745 runs in 12 innings and not completely rubbish with the ball. Honestly, we’re not joking when we say he’s what England have been missing for donkey’s years.