It was one of those wins. The kind of match you look back on years later and wonder how on earth it happened. I’m still trying to fully work it out a few hours after the final ball.
I’ve been following English domestic cricket since 2013 when Ricky Ponting joined Surrey.
Since then, I’ve been an avid follower of Surrey and the English domestic scene, trying to pick out future English stars for all formats.
Despite supporting Surrey for the past eight seasons, I can assure readers that I haven’t chosen Surrey players for the sake of it, first choosing players who deserve a spot in the XI.
1. Rory Burns
First-class (FC) stats – 9209 runs, 42.43 average, 18 hundreds
Test stats – 979 runs, 33.75 average, two hundreds
Burns had a rough start to his Test career, but in his last eight Tests, he’s averaged 44.46 with the bat including two centuries and three half-centuries. With an unusual technique, Burns is a solid player square of the wicket on both sides. An ankle injury following a warm-up mishap threatened to derail his career, but once cricket resumes, the left-hander from Surrey will come back into the Test XI for England.
2. Dominic Sibley
FC stats – 4729 runs, 41.48 average, 14 hundreds
Test stats – 362 runs, 40.22 average, one hundred
Sibley has had a positive start to his Test career, scoring a century in South Africa. With a similar batting style to Alastair Cook, he loves to bore bowlers for hours on end. He deserves to be given a chance in the long run and has the potential to score runs everywhere.
3. Sam Hain
FC stats – 3897 runs, 37.11 average, ten hundreds
Hain is starting to develop into a very handy batsman for Warwickshire in all formats. In the last edition of the County Championship Division 1, Hain smashed 822 runs at 51.37 with two hundreds and three fifties. He’s developing into a good prospect, and as he continues to pile on the runs, the England selectors will have no choice but to select him in their squad.
4. Joe Root (captain)
FC stats – 11,789 runs, 48.51 average, 28 hundreds
Test stats – 7599 runs, 48.4 average, 17 hundreds
It’s pretty astounding to think that Root was dropped for the fifth Ashes Test in 2014, considering how talented he is. Sixty-five of his 169 innings in Test cricket have been scores of 50-plus for the English skipper. The problem? Only 26.1 per cent of those fifties have been converted into centuries. He is an extremely talented batsman who hasn’t scored enough hundreds as he should have by now. Time is still on his side so that conversion rate can go higher in the future.
5. Ben Stokes
FC stats – 7849 runs, 35.04 average, 17 hundreds, 319 wickets, 29.94 average, 3.45 economy
Test stats – 4056 runs, 36.54 average, nine hundreds, 147 wickets, 32.68 average, 3.31 economy
All-rounders are not a must in Test cricket, but Stokes has been close to invaluable for England in the past few years. He’s not outright consistent, but when he’s on song, he’s a match-winner. He bowls pretty well when given the ball to create breakthroughs.
6. Ollie Pope
FC stats – 2852 runs, 60.68 average, nine hundreds
Test stats – 430 runs, 47.77 average, one hundred
Pope has batted at six for Surrey throughout his first-class career and has scored a truckload of runs for them so far. The 22-year-old has been nothing short of world class since coming back into the England team last year. Alongside his solid batting, he’s a very good keeper in case England have a keeping crisis.
7. Ben Foakes (wicketkeeper)
FC stats – 5474 runs, 38.01 average, nine hundreds
Test stats – 332 runs, 41.5 average, one hundred
He is England’s BJ Watling. He scores tough runs and is by far the best keeper in England. It was harsh to be dropped last year but he was recalled in their squad against Sri Lanka, so Foakes still is on the selectors’ radar.
8. Sam Curran
FC stats – 183 wickets, 29.6 average, 3.38 economy
Test stats – 37 wickets, 31.7 average, 3.26 economy
With his dad being a part of the Zimbabwean team that beat Australia in the 1983 World Cup, Sam Curran was always going to have many people following his career as a youngster. He’s been a breath of fresh air for England since his Test debut.
A left-arm seamer, the youngest Curran has the ability to force batsmen into playing rash shots due to the natural angles he creates and swinging it back into the right-handers. He’s skilful with the bat as well, winning two matches for England with the bat against India. There is a long future ahead for the 21-year-old.
9. Jack Leach
FC stats – 290 wickets, 25.77 average, 2.7 economy
Test stats – 34 wickets, 29.02 average, 2.85 economy
Playing most of his first-class cricket in Taunton, Leach has had the luxury of playing on spin-friendly wickets. Bowling traditional left-arm orthodox, the 28-year-old is very accurate and has won England matches with the ball on their tour of Sri Lanka and playing a holding role on pitches with nothing on offer for him.
10. Stuart Broad
FC stats – 779 wickets, 27.49 average, 3.05 economy
Test stats – 485 wickets, 28.5 average, 2.95 economy
I don’t need to explain his selection, do I?
11. James Anderson
FC stats – 959 wickets, 24.92 average, 2.87 economy
Test stats – 584 wickets, 26.83 average, 2.86 economy
Alongside his phenomenal Test career, Anderson gets bonus points for being an Arsenal fan.
1. Jason Roy
List A stats – 6494 runs, 39.12 average, 16 hundreds
ODI stats – 3434 runs, 42.39 average, nine hundreds
He is an incompetent Test batsman with many technical flaws, but Roy is a quality white-ball player. His game against spin is weak at times, but his power-hitting game is excellent.
2. Alex Hales
List A stats – 6260 runs, 38.4 average, 17 hundreds.
ODI stats – 2419 runs, 37.79 average, six hundreds
Since missing the World Cup for an off-field indiscretion, he has been in fine form for Nottinghamshire and franchise teams in white-ball formats. An aggressive batsman, Hales loves playing square of the wicket and has struck fear into opposition bowlers many times.
3. Jonny Bairstow
List A stats – 4845 runs, 41.05 average, 12 hundreds
ODI stats – 2923 runs, 47.14 average, nine hundreds
Bairstow doesn’t get the respect he deserves for his ODI performances. He has the ability to surpass AB de Villiers’ numbers in terms of averaging over 50 and striking over 100 in ODI cricket. A versatile player, Bairstow could bat anywhere between one and four and still amass runs consistently.
4. Eoin Morgan (captain)
List A stats – 11321 runs, 38.9 average, 21 hundreds
ODI stats – 7368 runs, 39.4 average, 13 hundreds
He is a phenomenal player for England. What he’s done as skipper of England in the white-ball formats cannot be forgotten.
A sound batsman, Morgan is equally adept to pace and spin, although his main weakness is the short ball. His adaptability to play the accumulator and finisher for England is what makes him such a dangerous player. The way he ditched Ireland was a bit disappointing but that’s another story.
5. Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper)
List A stats – 6009 runs, 44.84 average, 11 hundreds
ODI stats – 3843 runs, 40.88 average, nine hundreds
He is England’s greatest white-ball player of all time. Since his debut, Buttler has revolutionised the way one-day cricket in England is played. His ability to score in all parts of the ground is freakish. What makes Buttler so good is his consistency to score runs in the middle order at a strike rate just a shade under 120. His 59 in the World Cup gets forgotten. It was achieved almost at a run a ball, allowing Ben Stokes to take his time and settle in before accelerating in the latter stages. He is a fine gloveman whose keeping has been top notch.
6. Moeen Ali
List A stats – 5078 runs, 28.52 average, 11 hundreds, 160 wickets, 43.83 average, 5.37 economy
ODI stats – 1783 runs, 25.84 average, three hundreds, 85 wickets, 48.6 average, 5.25 economy
Ali didn’t have the most incredible World Cup, but he sure did play a crucial role leading up to England’s World Cup plan after the 2015 World Cup embarrassment. His off-spinners were very accurate and gave Eoin Morgan ten overs of runs being dried up. Ali’s batting wasn’t consistent with the limited chances he had, but he played some great knocks when England were in trouble.
7. Chris Woakes
List A stats – 1967 runs, 22.87 average, five fifties, 221 wickets, 33.3 average, 5.53 economy
ODI stats – 1226 runs, 25.07 average, four fifties, 143 wickets, 30.65 average, 5.57 economy
I was at the SCG the day Chris Woakes made his ODI debut. He showed promise in that game with a quickfire 12 and dismissing Michael Clarke. He’s developed into an outstanding new-ball bowler for England, and his death-bowling skills have improved a lot. His lower-order batting has been crucial for England, bailing them out of trouble when required to.
8. Liam Plunkett
List A stats – 283 wickets, 30.36 average, 5.55 economy
ODI stats – 135 wickets, 29.7 average, 5.81 economy
Plunkett is such an underrated bowler. In the 2019 World Cup, Plunkett took 11 wickets in seven matches, ten of those wickets coming in between overs 11 and 40. Bowling in the low 140s, the Surrey bowler has a knack of taking crucial breakthroughs in the middle overs and quietly does his job. He credits Jason Gillespie for reviving his career at Yorkshire in the early 2010s. An unsung hero for England with the ball, Plunkett is capable with the bat, as shown in his quickfire 22 off 11, smashing a last-ball six to tie a thriller of an ODI against Sri Lanka.
9. Jofra Archer
List A stats – 44 wickets, 27.59 average, 4.96 economy
ODI stats – 23 wickets, 24.73 average, 4.63 economy
Even though cricket is slowly becoming more batsman-friendly, watching bowlers steam in at 150 and cause havoc is exciting to watch as a cricket fan. Archer was the X-factor England needed for the World Cup. Being accurate with pace is one thing, but to have an effective slower ball, bouncer and yorker so early in his ODI career shows he’s already world class in white-ball cricket. If he can remain injury-free, Archer and Jasprit Bumrah will be battling non-stop to be crowned the best white-ball bowler in the world for years to come.
10. Adil Rashid
List A stats – 292 wickets, 31.13 average, 5.43 economy
ODI stats – 146 wickets, 31.49 average, 5.61 economy
I remember watching him play against Australia in 2009. He had a very good googly, but was all over the place at times. A change in action has seen Rashid develop into a fine leg-spinner in the limited-overs formats. With more control, the Yorkshire leg-spinner has done a fine job alongside Liam Plunkett in creating breakthroughs with the ball in the middle overs. He is no mug with the bat, having scored ten first-class tons in his career so far.
11. Mark Wood
List A stats – 107 wickets, 32.94 average, 5.33 economy
ODI stats – 61 wickets, 39.09 average, 5.53 economy
It’s a shame that injuries have cut so many months off his cricket career, but when Mark Wood is in full flight, he’s a tough customer to deal with. Alongside his sheer pace, Wood gets steep bounce, making him a big threat at times. He is a handy bowler in the middle and death overs.
1. Tom Banton (wicketkeeper)
T20 stats – 944 runs, 30.45 average, one hundred
T20I stats – 56 runs, 18.67 average
To call Tom Banton an upcoming talent is an understatement. With a similar batting style to Kevin Pietersen, Banton has a very fearless attitude. His long reach allows him to play spinners on the front foot and the sixes he hits go a long way. Only 21, Banton has got plenty of time on his hands to enhance his game further and make a name for himself in international cricket.
2. James Vince
T20 stats – 5740 runs, 30.21 average, one hundred
T20I stats – 340 runs, 28.33 average, one fifty
Vince’s T20 numbers are excellent, and he’s done well in the limited chances he’s had playing for England in the shortest format. One of the classiest batsman I’ve seen in English cricket, he’d be a solid T20 opener.
3. Dawid Malan (captain)
T20 stats – 5430 runs, 33.31 average, five hundreds
T20I stats – 469 runs, 52.11 average, one hundred
Malan has been disrespected by the England selectors. He’s a class T20 batsman for England, having passed 50 six times in ten innings, yet was left out of the T20 side for over a year. Not only does Malan have to be on the plane to Australia, but he also has to be batting at three for England in the T20 World Cup, or else they can kiss their chances goodbye. He’s got a brilliant cricketing mind, and I’ve seen him do well as a captain in T20 leagues, so he’s my captain in this XI.
4. Joe Denly
T20 stats – 5057 runs, 27.78 average, four hundreds
T20I stats – 96 runs, 9.6 average
Denly hasn’t been rightly used in the English T20 side so far, having been used as an all-rounder most times. For me, he’s the glue in the T20 line-up, solidifying the innings while others bat around him before going all guns blazing in the last few overs. A very good T20 batsman, Denly can bowl a few overs of leg spin, but he’s primarily a batsman who bowls part-time leggies, not an all-rounder like the way the England selectors treat him.
5. Liam Livingstone
T20 stats – 2515 runs, 27.04 average, one hundred
T20I stats – 16 runs, 8 average
Livingstone is a destructive player, especially in the shortest format. Primarily a middle-order batsman, Livingstone has the ability to go all-out attack from ball one. It was a bit surprising to see that he hasn’t played a T20I since 2017, but he is on the English selectors’ radar for the T20 World Cup.
6. Ravi Bopara
T20 stats – 7113 runs, 28.22 average, one hundred
T20I stats – 711 runs, 28.44 average, three fifties
Bopara is heavily undervalued. At the ripe old age of 35, he’s played for 13 different T20 teams in the world. Initially a top-order batsman, Bopara plays as a finisher nowadays in T20 cricket and is very effective at it. For Essex in the 2019 T20 Blast, Bopara played many cameos at number six that won them games and ultimately saw them crowned champions. He bowls some decent medium pace as well.
7. Liam Dawson
T20 stats – 1914 runs, 20.14 average, five fifties, 120 wickets, 27.31 average, 7.28 economy
T20I stats – 17 runs, 17 average, five wickets, 30.4 average, 7.6 economy
Dawson has made a name for himself in the past few years as a T20 specialist. With the bat, he has played many cameos for Hampshire and other franchise T20 teams he’s played for. Alongside his batting, Dawson bowls left-arm offies and has been accurate when bowling with the new ball or when bowling in the middle overs.
8. Tom Curran
T20 stats – 873 runs, 18.57 average, two fifties, 149 wickets, 23.46 average, 8.67 economy
T20I stats – 38 runs, 12.67 average, 21 wickets, 25.57 average, 9.1 economy
While his younger brother has been winning Test matches for England, Tom Curran has been playing T20 leagues across the world. He can go the journey at times, but T20 cricket is such a fickle game for bowlers that stats can be misleading at times. His back-of-the-hand slower ball and yorkers are some of the variations he’s developed across the past few years to become a wicket-taker in the slog overs. As Sydney Sixers fans would’ve witnessed countless times, he is very suitable with the bat and has won games for them and Surrey when batting in the slog overs. A T20 World Cup spot is a possibility, but it’s hard to say whether he’s a certainty at the moment.
9. Chris Jordan
T20 stats – 206 wickets, 26.2 average, 8.49 economy
T20I stats – 58 wickets, 24.27 average, 8.66 economy
Jordan has developed into one of the best death bowlers in T20 cricket. His subtle variations and yorkers have been very effective for England when defending totals. He did go for a few runs here and there in England’s T20 series against New Zealand, but the grounds are quite small across the ditch and can be an absolute nightmare for bowlers. On bigger grounds in Australia, Jordan’s variations will be more than a handful in the T20 World Cup.
10. Matt Parkinson
T20 stats – 65 wickets, 15.03 average, 7.2 economy
T20I stats – five wickets, 12.2 average, 10.17 economy
Parkinson is a very good understudy to Adil Rashid. For Lancashire, he provides control, accuracy and the ability to take wickets in crucial stages of a game. From what I’ve seen of him so far, he is not afraid to toss the ball up and give it a big rip even after getting belted for sixes. There is a chance he can make the T20 World Cup squad for England, but he needs to play a few more games before he’s a genuine chance of making it.
11. Harry Gurney
T20 stats – 190 wickets, 22.58 average, 7.84 economy
T20I stats – three wickets, 18.33 average, 6.87 economy
Gurney has an unorthodox action for a left-armer, but he has become a very good T20 bowler in franchise cricket. His back-of-the-hand slower ball is easy to pick, but very difficult to set up for and hit boundaries off. In the 2019 Natwest T20 Blast, Gurney was the second-highest wicket-taker, picking up 22 scalps in 12 games. Unless one of England’s front-line bowlers gets an injury, I don’t see Gurney forcing his way into the T20 World Cup squad. However, that says a lot about England’s depth in T20 bowlers.