Wednesday, 3 August 2011

2005 v 2011 - Ultimate Team

Last night I had a look at this current England side, and whether they're better than their 2005 counterparts. Seeing as quite a few people have been getting involved in creating a 2005-2011 composite side (including Tom Fordyce of the BBC), I thought I'd have a go myself.

1) Alastair Cook (2011) - Just count the runs. Not in sparkling form thus far in this India series, but his feats over the winter and into the Sri Lanka series speak for themselves.

2) Andrew Strauss (2005) - A really tough one this for the opposing opening berth - do you want the Strauss of 2011 with added captaincy? Or the hard-hitting Trescothick, who'd otherwise walk into any composite England team of recent history? Instead I've gone for 2005 edition Strauss, as he gutsed out two big hundreds despite wearing a few from Brett Lee. As classy and stylish a batsman as you could ever see, and 2005 was just about at his pomp.

3) Michael Vaughan [Captain] (2005) - As much for the excellent batting (on his day Vaughany was as good as any in the world) as the innovative and inspirational captaincy. Would certainly get the best out of his bowlers, as well as plenty of runs from number 3.

4) Kevin Pietersen (2011) - The Kevin Pietersen of 2005 was a breath of fresh air; the young skunk-haired Saffa who hit Warney for sixes and dropped catches for fun. The 2011 KP still drops the odd catch, but has become a bit more wise about his cricket. While in 2005 he'd hit a six, but then be caught on the boundary trying it again, in 2011 he's a touch more circumspect, as seen in a gritty 200 at Lord's last week. After a rough patch, 2011 KP has found a way back to the 2005 form that saw him burst onto the world scene, which is why the more mature vintage makes it into the team.

5) Ian Bell (2011) - No contest at all for which edition of Ian Bell to put into the team; in 2005 he was very much a boy amongst men, whereas in 2011 he towers over his contemporaries. Since being shellshocked in 2005, Bell has added guts to his obvious skill, and is arguably the best batsman in the world right now.

6) Andrew Flintoff (2005) - Do I even need to elaborate? Runs, wickets, bucket hands at first slip, inspirational match-winning performances, a few drinks.

7) Matt Prior (2011) - Matt Prior is quite simply the best wicket-keeper batsman in the world, and his all-round game has improved leaps and bounds since arriving on the international scene. Geraint Jones never flourished with either glove or bat, but is still revered as a hero for catching Kasprowicz down the leg side.

8) Graeme Swann (2011) - Graeme Swann is an attacking offie who turns the ball a fair way. Ashley Giles was a defensive slow left armer who's stock ball was the straight one. Thanks for the runs at Trent Bridge Gilo, but I'm sticking with Swanny.

9) Steve Harmison (2005) - Harmy was probably already on the slide by 2005, but was still a fearful sight for any batsman. That early spell on the first morning at Lord's where he skittled the Aussies (and cut Ricky Ponting) set the tone for the series (even if England were thumped) and Harmison led England's most successful attack of recent years with distinction.

10) Jimmy Anderson (2011) - The leader of England's attack six years later. Now with an ability to swing it wherever he wants, there is no better bowler in English conditions, and Jimmy takes wickets for fun.

11) Simon Jones (2005) - A tough one for my final seamer's spot. Chris Tremlett, he of the fearful bounce? Stuart Broad, the enforcer man risen from the dead who takes wickets and scores runs? Matthew Hoggard to share the new ball and make it talk? Instead, I've gone for the master of reverse swing, and the unsung hero of England's 2005 Ashes win. The Welsh Warrior, Simon Jones.

So then, that's my composite 2005 and 2011 England team. Just imagine if such a side (at their peak) had taken to the field - especially with the likes of Trescothick, Trott, Strauss, Pietersen, Tremlett, Broad and Hoggard in reserve - we'd have been world number one years ago!

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