OK, so this is yet another attempt to select a one day international side that would perform reasonably well in the World Cup. However, instead of selecting a side based on ability or performance, The Village Cricketer has selected 11 players based on how much they annoy their opponents’ fans.
1. Graeme Smith (captain): Obvious choice really, the brash South African skipper (and child of the eighties) has been getting right up the noses of opponents since he made his ODI debut in 2002. Irritating swagger and an inability to score runs on the off-side fuel his inclusion.
2. Matthew Hayden: His middle name is Lawrence. Haydos is a flat track bully who relishes life on one-way streets. Quite prepared to give it out, however he got very upset when Simon Jones accidentally hit him with a ball during a match in 2005.
3. Sourav Ganguly: Known as Lord Snooty by his opponents, Ganguly is an aggressive player on and off the field. Was banned for six matches for slow over rates against Pakistan and upset MCC members by waving his shirt around on the balcony at Lords.
4. Kevin Pietersen: Sorry big Kev, you are a legend in blue, however you do too many interviews about your favourite aftershaves, you were (somewhat ironically) called “The Ego” by the Aussies and spend too much time winding up South African cricket administrators over their quota systems.
5. Inzamam ul Haq: Inzy’s running probably annoys his batting partners more than the oppo, but has been included for being the only skipper in the history of the game to forfeit a test match.
6. Andrew Symonds: If he wasn’t so good, Symonds would qualify as a village cricketer for trying to bowl both spinners and medium-pace. Although he was born in Birmingham – and played county cricket as an Englishman – he rudely turned down the opportunity to play for England A. Bit of a slogger, bad haircut, known by the village nickname “Roy”, during the tour of England in 2005 he got pissed up before a game – was suspended – and missed being humiliated by Bangladesh.
7. Paul Nixon (wk): Pipped Brendon McCullum to first choice on the basis that there needed to be at least one proper Englishman in the side. Was picked for England for the sole reason he would wind up the oppo, and he very much succeeded in doing so in a memorable innings against New Zealand in the recent Commonwealth Bank series. The gum shield he sports when standing up to the wicket makes him sound a little demented.
8. Shane Warne: Would make a return to international cricket to be part of this side. Perhaps the most irritating spin bowler in history, the amount of bull he spouts when bowling is the only thing that outdoes his leggies. Also sledges when he bats, harasses nice English nurses, is Australian. Oh, and he made a miraculous return from injury only to be found guilty of taking a banned substance, and was only banned for a year.
9. Shanthakumaran Sreesanth: Another child of the eighties, Sreesanth is a former break-dancer who once tried to out annoy Andre Nel by dancing down the wicket waving his bat around his head after hitting him for six. Wears more wristbands than a middle-aged music festival junky.
10. Glen McGrath: So badly educated that his primary school is listed in his CricInfo profile, his preferred method of winding up the oppo is in doing an indiscreet newspaper interview ahead of each series in which he names his bunnies and predicts the series score. Somewhat arrogant: “I can’t really see any team getting close to us,” he told AFP ahead of the World Cup.
11. Andre Nel: a bludgeoning medium pacer who has amassed one of South African cricket’s most chequered disciplinary records. Was once stopped by Tasmanian police for drink driving, was found guilty of smoking marijuana during a tour of the West Indies, makes ridiculous facial gestures, uses language that would upset his mum and was once told by Adam Gilchrist to “show some respect”.