There are those in life that watch and moan, and there are those in life that watch, moan then do something about it. The Village Cricketer has lamented the pitiful performance of the England team in this current World Cup and has selected a 15-man squad that has the potential (because when it comes to English cricket, potential is a popular word) to win the next one. The squad selected is full of exciting young cricketers that have show enough signs of talent and temperament required to win a tournament. It may be a little batsmen heavy, however those listed score quickly and make big runs, the bowlers ooze class. Those cricketers listed below need to be given an extended run in international cricket over the next four years to hone their skills and gain the experience they need. Crucially, this side already has the core of a successful England team. As always, I welcome your thoughts.
James Benning: Born 1983, James Benning is a classy opening batsman at Surrey with a career Twenty20 strike rate of 147, a List A one day average of 35.13 and top score of 189* against Gloucestershire. These provide enough evidence to suggest he is prepared to get on with it and the ability to score big once in. This is the man that could do the job Mal Loye should have been selected for in the Windies.
Andrew Flintoff: Despite his lack of form with the bat, big Fred is still one of the world’s best players and still the right side of 30. Provided he can find some form (and joie de vivre) in time for the next World Cup Fred could be a match winner with bat or ball. Could possibly open the batting.
Kevin Pietersen: England’s best batsman by a mile, but gosh – don’t he know it. Perhaps, marriage and another four years maturity will mellow KP and improve his batting even more. Big ego, but a bigger cog in the English wheel.
Ian Bell: One of the few positives in this tournament. Bell showed class, was consistent and has still yet to reach his prime. Aged just 25 now, he can be the ideal foil in the middle order to the likes of Pietersen, Flintoff and Benning.
Ravi Bopara: Only got in the side because Fred fell out of his pedalo, but is likely to remain there for some time. Is 22 this May but demonstrates maturity beyond his years with the bat. Already averaging 36.50 at a strike rate in excess of 80 in ODI cricket and is a handy bowler too.
Paul Collingwood *: Give him the captaincy and ink his name on the team sheet. Has scored 100s against the best ODI side in the world, is the best fielder in the world and can bowl a bit too. Great temperament, has worked hard to get where he is and will not give it away easily. Will be 34 the next time the World Cup comes along and will make a good mentor to the younger members of the side.
Matt Prior +: Still just 25, the Sussex keeper/batsman has already had a pop at ODI cricket. He batted at the top of the order and pitched in with a few 30s and a 40-odd in tough series in Pakistan and India. More than 500 Twenty20 runs at a strike rate of 138.97 puts him up with the best in county cricket.
Ian Blackwell: With the next World Cup in Asia we will need two spinners and the Somerset allrounder had a regular place in the England team before missing pretty much all of the 2006 season through injury. With the ball he has a tidy ODI economy rate of 4.27 and was bowling consistently tight spells against good oppositions. Although he hasn’t shown his true batting ability on a regular basis for England, he has made good runs in county cricket, gives the ball a smack and regularly clears the boundary. Worth a recall.
Stuart Broad: Pace, bounce, good fielder and can hold a bat too. Has performed well in the few ODI matches he has played already and is likely to have a long and successful England career.
Monty Panesar: A world cup on the subcontinent needs a quality spinner – and Monty is quality. Had a more than useful test tour in India last year and has performed credibly in the ODI games he has already played.
Jimmy Anderson: King of the swingers, Jimmy A is already a potential matchwinner in the England side. Had a decent enough World Cup and has already won matches on the subcontinent.
Billy Godleman: You’ll have to take my word on this that I had picked young Billy in this side before he made a hundred against Somerset on his championship debut. This kid has class, and showed many with a quickfire 71 in a televised Twenty20 match last season. A former Australian cricket academy attendee who played alongside him at Brondesbury once told me he was as good at 15 as Damien Martyn.
Mark Pettini: This Essex lad is an opening batsman, talented strokeplayer, a sharp fielder and a potential reserve wicketkeeper. Pettini established himself in the Essex team in 2006 hitting a career-best 208 not out in a Championship victory over Derbyshire. He was also part of the Pro40 Division One title-winning side. Has a good strike rate in both List A and Twenty20 cricket.
Rikki Clarke: Would have played more for England already but for the ever presence of Flintoff. Good batsman and pacey bowler. Topped Surrey’s batting averages for the totesport league in 2005 and has already taken international wickets. Squad player for the next World Cup.
Luke Wright: A blonde medium-fast bowling allrounder, Mr Wright could be the English equivalent of Shane Watson (well, hopefully the good bits anyway). Can score quickly, scored a century on his first-class debut for Sussex. Once took a hat-trick for England Under-19s against South Africa.