With England picking their provisional 30-man squad for the summer’s Twenty20 World Cup, and no place for Test and one-day captain Andrew Strauss, it is the perfect opportunity for our panel to stick their oars in. Here, they choose their captain and final 15s.
As a reminder, here’s who they had to pick from:
England preliminary WorldTwenty20 squad: Kabir Ali (Worcestershire); James Anderson (Lancashire); Gareth Batty (Worcestershire); Ian Bell (Warwickshire); Ravi Bopara (Essex); Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire); Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire); Paul Collingwood (Durham); Joe Denly (Kent); James Foster (Essex); Steven Davies (Worcestershire); Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire); Steve Harmison (Durham); Robert Key (Kent); Sajid Mahmood (Lancashire); Dimitri Mascarenhas (Hampshire); Eoin Morgan (Middlesex); Graham Napier (Essex); Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire); Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire); Liam Plunkett (Durham); Matthew Prior (Sussex); Adil Rashid (Yorkshire); Owais Shah (Middlesex); Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire); Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire); Chris Tremlett (Hampshire); Shaun Udal (Middlesex); Chris Woakes (Warwickshire); Luke Wright (Sussex).
Editor of The Wisden Cricketer
Mascarenhas (c), Prior wk, Bopara, Collingwood, KP, Flintoff, Napier, Swann, Anderson, Broad, Sidebottom, Shah, Wright, Bresnan, Patel.
England’s calendar is so cluttered that even a world tournament that they are hosting is unlikely to emerge from the shadow of the Ashes for its brief duration in June. The captain has to be a first-choice selection which rules out Rob Key. KP or Collingwood would be obvious choices but to hell with it, let’s go for Dimi Mascarenhas. He’s an experienced and canny limited-over performer and has the chance to focus on this in the way other senior England players just do not. Give it a go – what’s the worst thing that can happen?
Assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer
Pietersen (c), Bell, Key, Shah, Foster, Prior, Bopara, Collingwood, Patel, Broad, Flintoff, Mascarenhas, Napier, Anderson, Swann.
KP as captain; he’s the only batsman guaranteed a place. I’d like to give it to Key but it’s just too much to expect someone who’s been out of the international frame for as long as he has to come in and captain his country in a World Cup. There’s a balance of big-hitters and conventional batsmen, wicket-takers and run-stoppers. The keeper is vital in Twenty20 matches so it has to be the best in the country – James Foster. He even stands up to Graham Napier when he’s hitting 90mph (people seem to forget he’s a bowler first – and a very good one). For the record my XI is: Key, Flintoff, KP, Bopara, Colly, Patel, Napier, Mascarenhas, Foster, Swann, Anderson.
Editorial assistant of The Wisden Cricketer
Mascarenhas (c), Prior, Key, Shah, Pietersen, Bopara, Collingwood, Flintoff, Wright, Napier, Foster, Broad, Swann, Udal, Anderson.
A familiar-looking final 15 then. Three hot issues:
1) Captaincy: Key has an active mind and a calm presence, and is one of the few who won’t be distracted by bowling duties. The trouble is, he’s no certainty for the starting XI. So Mascarenhas is my man.
2) Wicketkeeper: A capable keeper who can stand-up to the quicks is
paramount in this form of the game, so let Foster (edging out Davies) keep and Prior bat.
3) Specialist spinners: Spinners are winners in T20, and it may be worth
compromising the batting by including a Swann-Udal tandem.
Blogger and Rob Key fan
Rob Key as captain and then any 14 interchangeable faces of bland inferiority after that. It won’t matter. With Rob Key as captain, this team will be invincible.
If Rob Key were a superhero, his superpower would be unflappability of a quite staggering magnitude and that’s what you want in a Twenty20 captain – indeed that’s what you want in an international cricketer.
Web editor of thewisdencricketer.com
Key(c), Bopara, Pietersen, Shah, Collingwood, Flintoff, Mascarenhas, Foster, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Denly, Mahmood, Napier, Wright.
Team in batting order with four reserves.
England need one proper opener, so I pick the innovative Key, and as an automatic pick he gets the captaincy – he can help England remember how to have fun. I would have had Strauss, but the selectors couldn’t talk him in – a really poor decision – and the others have too much baggage. I’ll ignore the potential for embarrassment if he lifts the trophy.
Watching Prior bat in ODIs/ T20 is painful – he doesn’t hit straight enough – so Foster or Davies get the gloves, Foster in this case because of his experience.
Worryingly the bowlers pick themselves – Saj is in as a reserve because of his slower ball. Denly is there too, despite a poor winter he is a real talent and his straight hitting is a phenomenon. Napier could get a chance instead of Anderson if his bowling is up to scratch.