Michael Carberry – Carberry got to the stage where he’d established himself as the next batsman in the English Test queue in 2009 and even managed to make his debut, only for a burst blood vessel in his lung to curtail those ambitions and even threaten an end to his career. In that 2009 season though, he’d racked up 1252 runs at an average of 69.5 with the bat and although he has yet to hit those heights since his return to health and cricket, the Test:Talent ratio certainly shows Carberry as being an unfortunate opening pick to this side.
Nick Knight – I swear there was a Test cricketer in there somewhere. Sure, the man’s middle name might well be Verity, and in his 17 Tests he was actually rather useless – found to be quite awful outside off stump and totally unsure in defence…but his ODI record was excellent, averaging above 40 across 100 matches. Basically, I thought he should have done better in Test cricket than he did and the XI was short of an opening batsman, so he makes the list.
Stuart Law – Law scored an unbeaten half century in his solitary Test innings for Australia; a score not deemed good enough to warrant a second bite of the cherry. Law’s excellence for Derbyshire, Essex and Lancashire saw him rack up 1000 runs in every English season between 1999 and 2003, with only injury preventing him extending that in 2004. Although this principally goes to show that early 2000s Australia had an unfair, practically cheating amount of batting talent to pick from in that era, it all seemed a sickeningly huge travesty to this Englishman, who had to witness England debuts for Usman Afzaal, Chris Adams and Ian Ward. Sigh…
Mark Ramprakash – A controversial shout to be included on this list, given Ramps racked up over 50 caps anyway mainly in the 1990s. However he amassed a disgustingly obscene amount of runs for both Middlesex and Surrey across the noughties including a record number of centuries. In spite of numerous record breaking run sprees, the selectors had moved on and Ramps never quite got that 10th chance his form deserved.
Chris Rogers – The selection which inspired the XI, and therefore would naturally be captain too. Rogers short-sightedness and colour blindness might have weighed against him, as well as the way he annoyed his potential team-mates (in particular Matthew Hayden which is always a plus in my bitter, twisted little Englander book) by scoring a double century against his own country when facing them in a tour match for Leicestershire in 2005. However, whilst Australia have not been racked with natural batting grit over the past 5 years or so, Roger’s blistering county form with Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Middlesex makes his continued exclusion a little bizarre. Until now…
Ed Joyce – England nabbed him from Ireland to feature in their middle order after an impressive run of form across several seasons in the longer formats for Middlesex, and then proceeded to only play him in ODIs. Although he managed to bag a ton here against a decent Australian attack, and in spite of a first class average of 45+ which has extended to his current county of Sussex, Joyce has been allowed under ICC rulings to re-Irish-ise himself and his Test career is well over before it even began.
James Foster – In an era where almost 50 Test caps were given to the combined hooved hands of Geraint Jones and Tim Ambrose, Foster’s sharp glovework made him an obvious candidate to fill the void in the mid 2000s. Yet aside from 7 Tests as a very young emerging keeper who was yet to develop his technique with bat in hand, Foster has been ignored by England selectors apart from a brief cameo as T20 ‘keeper in 2009. With Matt Prior having eventually established himself now as not only an exceptional batsman but also a top quality gloveman too, things look bleak for Foster’s future prospects of a further recall. A shame.
Martin Bicknell – Picked for two Tests against Australia in 1993 and dropped without making too much impression, Bicknell had to wait another ten years and the best part of 1000 first class wickets until his third and fourth Tests came under Michael Vaughan. He’d already turned 34 by this stage when he starred against South Africa, yet he bowled England to victory at the Oval. He was even useful for some runs at 8 or 9 with a First Class batting average of 24.97, but it was his First Class bowling average of 25.06 which, well, for no obvious reason didn’t speak for itself with the England selectors.
Glenn Chapple – So he wasn’t quick, wasn’t scary, and wasn’t Glenn McGrath. Glen Chapple WAS however unerringly accurate, consistent and took a shedload (888) of First Class wickets across his career, which is still ongoing now. At some point in some twisted yet excellent alternative reality, Glenn Chapple had a long Test career and was described as “The English Chris Martin”.
Murali Kartik – How many bowlers ran through the Australian batting juggernaut of the mid-2000s with 7 wickets in a Test, only to be dropped a Test later? Kartik did, and in fact he was never really fancied in an Indian side containing Anil Kumble and Harbajhan Singh, in spite of excellent performances for Lancashire, Middlesex, Somerset and Surrey. A classical left arm orthodox spinner, definitely not a chinaman, with enough variations to shame KP’s hairdresser, his 36 First Class 5-fors really ought to have resulted in more Test recognition with India, certainly post-Kumble.
James Kirtley – So there were a few ‘minor’ issues with his action and he ended up only playing limited overs matches for even Sussex. Kirtley played just 4 Tests for England, but in among them was a spell of 6-34 against South Africa which won England the Test in 2003. 6-34 against South Africa! Genuine pace, genuine wicket-taking threat, genuinely messed around by the ECB.