Thursday, 26 March 2009

The great uncapped and life following art

Though it is, sadly, too late to make an entry for the Wisden England's Greatest Uncapped XI competition (in Tests), I'd nonetheless recommend a quick browse of the long list before the selection’s publication in the April issue, if only to be reminded of quite how shambolic 1990s selection was.

The striking thing, for me, about the list, was my lack of outrage on behalf of any modern player (except, very wishfully, Ali Brown). For much of the (almost) 15 years for which I’ve watched the national team, I was convinced that one county performer or another was being cruelly overlooked: Darren Maddy, Steve James, Robert Croft, Simon Brown, Mike Smith, Jon Lewis, Chris Adams and even Aftab Habib all seemed passed over too long for playing at unfashionable counties. Yet, as you’ll have noticed, all these players did, for better or, more often, worse, eventually play at least one Test.

The decade in which England sunk to the bottom of world cricket was ushered in by the selectors’ feat of picking 29 players in the 6-match 1989 Ashes series, with little improvement in consistency of selection until the introduction of central contracting. On the long list, then, are left the likes of Dougie Brown, Peter Bowler, Mark Wagh, Paul Johnson and Robin Martin-Jenkins, solid county pros certainly, but hardly prompting a tear in the eye at what might have been. At least latterly – Darren Pattinson aside – there has been method to selectors’ madness. Even if Cook and Bell have hung on for far too long.

Elsewhere in the cricketing world, life seems to be following art as plans are made for a New York tournament involving top (current and former) Pakistan players. This in the year after the publication of Joseph O’Neill’s (considerably over-hyped) novel Netherland, which tells the story of Trinidadian would-be Gatsby, Chuck Ramkissoon, whose dream is to set up New York’s first proper cricket stadium for an international tournament. Hopefully the entrepreneur Jay Mir’s plans will have happier results than Ramkissoon’s and I won’t provide the kiss of death for the second post running.


  1. How were you not outraged by the fact that Gary Keedy never played a Test?

  2. His peak - 60 wickets in 2003, 72 in 2004 - probably coincided with Giles' run in the England side (and demolition of the W.I. in 2004). I guess that his batting would certainly have counted against him under Fletcher and, when they did have a second spinner, they wanted the off-spin/slow left arm contrast...

    But yes, he is probably the unluckiest player from my time on that list, along with Jason Lewry (lethal once when I saw him at Lord's). Keedy, though, is still playing - perhaps a Udalesque twilight to his career awaits...