England Ladder: Test Matches
What kind of year has it been? 2016 in general – shite. The last 12 months for the England Test team – not too bad, thanks. It’s not as if anyone thought they’d do well in the UAE anyway, and beating South Africa was a lovely affair. The summer series saw them avenge Sri Lanka and honourably draw with Pakistan. Along the way Nick Compton got recalled, Moeen Ali opened the batting and Nick Compton got dropped.
We haven’t dropped you from our hearts though Nick. Call us.
Now it’s the August bank holiday and thoughts are turning to the upcoming winter tours of India and Bangladesh. Assuming everyone is fully fit, we reckon there are eight certainties in the side, with three spaces available: opening bat, middle order batsman and second spinner. Or we could just let Joe Root do it all.
- Joe Root (unchanged) We can’t recall an England cricketer capable of reaching 50* so often and so effortlessly. When he improves the conversion rate, he will cement his place as a modern great.
- Alastair Cook (unchanged) Batted this season like a man free from stress – often scoring runs at a quicker rate than those at the other end. Seemingly more comfortable as captain now, too – irrespective of what the Boycott/Botham axis of arseholery have to say.
- James Anderson (+1) When we wrote the ladder last year, he needed 37 to reach 450 Test wickets. Now he needs 37 to reach 500. That would be incredible.
- Stuart Broad (-1) Broady didn’t reach the same heights as 2015 this summer, but he is now maturing like a 30-year old. Oh, hang on – he is a 30-year old. Who knows where the time goes?
- Ben Stokes (+1) After the unbelievable 258 at Newlands, his year stopped and started with injury problems. Once he’s fully fit, expect the averages of 33.23 and 37.58 to swap around.
- Jonny Bairstow (+6) A man written off by 51allout so many times, we’re glad to be wrong. The boy has become a man.
- Moeen Ali (-2) Despite having played the worst shot we have ever seen at any level of the game (charging down the pitch at Lord’s against Yasir Shah), he had a fine summer with the bat. No doubt the debate about his role in the team as spinner will still be raging as he bags his 50th cap in a couple of years time.
- Chris Woakes (+11) Rarely has a player moved from the periphery to the core in such a short period. Last year we said the selectors will have to twist or stick soon – their decision to stick has been rewarded massively.
- Alex Hales (+4) We think he’s worth persevering with for the time being, but boy does he need a Test century. Even Adam Lyth and Sam Robson managed to do so, before being correctly dropped.
- Steven Finn (-2) Oh, we don’t know. Such a lovely chap, such a frustrating bowler. He used to bowl crap and get wickets, now when he bowls well, he doesn’t.
- Mark Wood (unchanged) Although he hasn’t played a Test since last October, his form after returning from injury shows he deserves to be in the squad, even if subcontinental conditions mean he might not make the starting XI for quite a while.
- Adil Rashid (-2) Probably England’s second spinner, his county stats this season aren’t great, but that stems in part from being at Yorkshire, who basically would be ranked #1 in the world if they were a country.
- Jos Buttler (-4) Another whose career has stalled somewhat, due to a combination of form and injury, but if his limited overs form continues, expect England to try and get him back in the Test team – especially if the middle order underperform as regularly as they did in the summer.
- Gary Ballance (+2) Speaking of which…Ballance was undeservedly recalled, and was fortunate to be in the same team as James Vince. Could quite possibly be jettisoned in favour of youth. Could quite possibly be jettisoned in favour of experience. Could quite possibly be jettisoned in favour of an all-rounder.
- Zafar Ansari (unchanged) Not Samit Patel.
- Samit Patel (RE) Not Gareth Batty.
- Gareth Batty (NE) We genuinely fear this will happen: England have form for this, viz. Shaun Udal. The difference between Udal in 2006 and Batty in 2016 though, is that Udal is not a complete and utter penis.
Gareth enjoying a nice afternoon out at his local football club.
- Jake Ball (NE) Ball’s selection this summer was a bit of a shock, considering the number of young seamers who have been mentioned as potential England bowlers in the past couple of years. We suspect only an injury crisis will result in him getting picked again.
- Liam Plunkett (-5) Liam Plunkett: not a limited overs specialist. Liam Plunkett: not a limited overs specialist.
- Scott Borthwick (unchanged) Looked to be on the verge of an England call-up before his form went south quicker than the express train to King’s Cross.
- James Vince (NE) Cover drive of Michael Vaughan; shot selection of Michael Holding. And that’s probably unfair to Holding.
- Ian Bell (-15) Still has half a chance of being selected for another tour of India, despite not scoring the mountain of runs that would have been expected in the County Championship.
- Daniel Bell-Drummond (NE) Everyone speaks highly of him, and with Hales stalling, he could be the next Uber off the App.
51allout’s attempts at showing they were down with the modern techno shizzle that kidz use were misguided.
- Ben Duckett (NE) It is telling that Duckett is as likely to get called up to the Test squad as he is the ODI team. More important to his county than his country.
- Toby Roland-Jones (RE) A surprise inclusion in the squad against Pakistan, Toblerone Jones might think he has an international career ahead of him after all. Sadly for him, his family and James from 51allout, he doesn’t. He really, really doesn’t.
- David Willey (-5) To be honest, he’s not likely to be a Test cricketer. However we like him, mostly because he once mugged off Jade Dernbach.
- Jason Roy (NE) Improving all the time, Roy has a smidgeon of a chance of touring India – and not just for the limited overs stuff. Will probably only feature when England finally go for the ‘fewest number of letters in a team’ world record that they’ve been threatening for a couple of years.
- Ollie Rayner (NE) Rayner seems to be the only spinner in the Championship taking wickets regularly, who hasn’t already played for New Zealand.
- Jack Leach (NE) An England Ladder wouldn’t be an England Ladder without a wildcard being chucked in to make up the numbers (or to prevent Nick Compton from still appearing).
- Saj Mahmood (unchanged) Cricket’s gain would be fashion‘s loss.