Who would make your England Test XI of the decade?
Despite what you might hear about Test cricket, England has been anything but boring in the last decade.
Three Ashes triumphs, including a first win in Australia since 1986/87, famous series wins in India, South Africa and Sri Lanka and, of course, rising to number 1 in the test ranking for the first time.
S Africa versus England
January 3, 2020, 7:30 AM
Over the past 10 years, England has won series victories over every other major test nation, but has also suffered series defeats on seven of those eight games. In every decade there will be high and low, but this really feels like it fluctuates between the two more often than most!
However, we are here to focus on the positive points and the best England Test XI of the years 2010. If your favorite player has missed it, rest assured, it is entirely due to a bias against him, your country and everything where they are and not that there are only 11 places to fill in and some very difficult calls to make …
Andrew Strauss (c)
Captain of the first English side who won the Ashes in Australia for 24 years, Strauss supported this in 2010/11 by bringing the team to the number 1 in the world a few months later with a demolition of India. He played perhaps only two and a half years of the 2010s and his batsman peak was demonstrably in the last few years of the previous decade, but he still succeeded in three hundred at that time.
Andrew Strauss led England to number 1 in the world in 2011 and leads our team of the decade
Since his retirement, England has had more opening batters than there have been UK elections in the last 10 years, which is a bit going on, and shows how difficult it has been to replace a man who will perish as one of the great captains of england and batsmen open.
Do I really have to explain this? The man got a knighthood for God’s sake! Twenty-three hundred from 2010, five of them doubled, most test runs ever by an English batsman, most runs by an Englishman in an Ashes series since 1929 – and the list goes on. His style was never the most pleasing to the eye, but, boy, he could score points.
2:51 Highlights from the last test innings of Alastair Cook, against India in 2018, when he scored a 33rd hundred before being fired for 147
Highlights from Alastair Cook’s latest Test innings, against India in 2018, when he scored 33rd before being fired for 147
As a captain, he led from the front with three centuries when England first triumphed in India in 27 years and lifted the Ash-urn twice, the second opportunity came only 18 months after the tumultuous 2013/14 tour of Australia ended in a 5-0 defeat without little bitterness. A remarkable career ended in a fairytale way when Cook bowed out of international cricket with an emotional century in his last Test innings at The Oval in 2018.
When people talk that England needs batsmen who really appreciate their wicket, can dig themselves in and really build an inning with an emphasis on how many runs instead of how fast, they are talking about Trott. They may not know it, but they are. In the same way as Cook, there was no attention to style. In 52 Tests he never even hit a six. Trott was all substance, a rock at No. 3 on the side that climbed to the top of the world ranking, ruthlessly spinning runs while the more free-flowing batsmen in the middle order could blossom.
In the last decade, Jonathan Trott helped England to Ashes victories in 2010/11 and 2013
That brings us to the most striking omission of this XI: Ian Bell. An incredible, stylish player who has offered so much to England over the years. His cover drive alone is worth a place in the side, but in the end it came down to Trott or Bell – and for all of Bell’s undisputed class it is Trott’s grit that has made England the hardest to replace and so he gets the nods .
You have undoubtedly heard that Roots has suffered form with the bat since he took over as England’s captain, his average has fallen, and so on. The statistics support that. However, the statistics also tell you that, despite that drop-off, in the history of Test cricket, only 10 batsmen have ever averaged more for England than Root – and the last of them retired in 1968.
2:05 Joe Root returned in style to New Zealand in December by playing his longest Test-innings and scoring a third two hundred for England
Joe Root returned in style to New Zealand in December by playing his longest Test-innings and scoring a third two hundred for England
Root is a generation talent and his double century in New Zealand has recently shown that he may go back to his best place. Some will look at his 17 hundreds and 45 fifties and say that he should convert more of those fifties, I am sure he agrees, but it also shows remarkable consistency. He scores half a century in one of every three Test innings – and that ends it. Fans of England hope that much more will come from Root in the next decade.
Forget textgate, forget the reintegration process and forget the way it all ended for him, Pietersen is almost undisputed the most entertaining and uniquely brilliant batsman who played Test cricket for England. Seven of his 23 Test-Hundreds came in this decade, with another 18 half centuries added for a good measure. However, the numbers tell only a fraction of the story.
Kevin Pietersen scored an astonishing 149 against South Africa in the now infamous Headingley test of 2012
At his best, his entire innings were like watching a highs reel. He could dismantle bowling attacks in an instant and he did it all over the world in all different circumstances with a double hundred in Adelaide, astonishing tons in Colombo and Mumbai, and in England you would go a long way to find a better shot then its astonishing 149 against South Africa in Headingley. Like him or hate him, there is only one KP and he should just be in this XI.
It is no surprise that every player in this XI is an Ashes winner. In fact, 10 of them won the urn at least twice. The other is Stokes. Yet he is the one whose contribution to an Ashes Test competition will be remembered the most. Those innings, his innings at Headingley in August, wrote his name in Ashes folklore. It is perhaps the best in a test between England and Australia. It is perhaps even the best in a test, full stop.
2:49 The Ashes appeared in August – but then Ben Stokes stepped up with a beautiful century to keep the battle for the urn alive
The ashes appeared in August – but then Ben Stokes stepped up with a beautiful century to keep the battle for the urn alive
That is undoubtedly at the top of the list when it comes to his match-winning, awe-inspiring appearances for England in red-ball cricket, but it is a list. That list would not include his 258 in Cape Town in 2016 because the match ended in a draw, but it once again demonstrated the extraordinary talent that he is. With bat, ball and in the field, Stokes is able to win for England and the worrying thing for opponents is that he only seems to get better.
The man behind the stumps when England was at its best in this decade and an excellent, aggressive batsman who came in at number 7. He was helped by the quality of the six for him, who often placed the side in such a strong position and gave him the freedom to attack, but in the cases that they did not, Prior showed his value.
Matt Prior hit a match-saving hundred in 2013 for England in Auckland
A challenging century to save a draw in Auckland in 2013 comes to mind, while he also had a test average of more than 40. Behind the scenes, Prior was a key figure in the dressing room, played the role of motivator and ensured that the standards were upheld. Jonny Bairstow has to make do with a squadron.
For years, England was looking for a true world-class spinner and they found one in Swann. At the beginning of the decade he was well established and from the beginning of 2010 until his retirement halfway through the 2013/14 axis, he took 193 wickets and brought his total to 255. Although he was more than capable of ending if necessary Swann was at his best when he was hunting for wickets, with his ability to let the ball dip and spin sharply and regularly mislead batsmen. In addition to his Ash triumphs, perhaps the biggest contribution from the off-spinner was in the historic series that India won in 2012, where he took 20 wickets out of 24.75.
Graeme Swann took 193 out of 255 English testwickets in the 2010s
Moeen Ali may be a shame to miss given his 181 testwickets in the decade, but he will be there to step in for one of the sailors on particularly dry surfaces and travel to the subcontinent.
Since 2010, Broad has taken 403 test competition wetsets. Only one bowler has taken more in that time – and we will reach him as quickly as possible! The Seamer is known for its ability to produce a game-changing spell. He has done it time and time again for England; those knees start to pump and the wickets start to tumble.
2:03 See some of the highlights from Stuart Broad’s England test
View some of the highlights from Stuart Broad’s England test
There are plenty of fans who will remember England, but of course there is one that they will cherish more than any other. August 6, Trent Bridge. Breed with barely credible figures from 8-15 and Australia bowling for 60 – it even brought the ‘oh-my-breed!’ Continue celebration, occasionally taken over by the English man. It’s hard to imagine how he could surpass that, but spending a summer sending David Warner packing the first time it closed!
Given that he has spent the last 10 years going through milestones and breaking records, it is no surprise that Anderson has taken more testwickets, 429, than anyone else at the time. First he raised 200 wickets; that quickly became 300; he passed Ian Botham to become England’s biggest wicket taker not long afterwards; and then relaxed after 400. His 500th came to the Lord in 2017; and the next summer he went to Glenn McGrath, making him the most productive fast bowler in test history. Now he is approaching 600.
1:35 James Anderson is the leading sailor in Test cricket – we look at the spells that have helped him get there
James Anderson is the leading sailor in Test cricket – we look at the spells that have helped him get there
If Broad is more a striped bowler and takes his wickets in bursts, Anderson is Mr Consistent. That may seem to curse him with vague praise, but it is meant as the biggest compliment. Anderson is always brilliant – the skill and control he shows spell after spell, match after match, series after series, is amazing. Even at the age of 37 he would like to continue, but he cannot go on forever, so fans of England should enjoy watching the swing king while they can.
The excellence of Broad and Anderson means that they have dominated over the last decade when it comes to English sailors, making this last selection the hardest. At home, Chris Woakes was fantastic – if the game were played on Lord’s, he would be a shoo-in – and would also add depth to the batting, while Tim Bresnan made a valuable contribution both at the beginning of the decade at home and abroad, in particular in the success of Ashes 2010/11.
Steven Finn took six wickets in the opening test of the Ashes 2010/11 in Brisbane
The last place, however, goes to Finn. First, based on the figures – 125 wickets in just 36 tests is an impressive record. He was the leading wicket taker after three Tests of the victorious Down Under tour of England before being dropped, somewhat hard, and added another 12 wickets at 22.50 in the Ashes 2015, again despite playing only three games.
It is also important to remember the bowler he was when he first broke through, a towering presence at 6’7 “and able to hit 90 mph and produce a smashing jump. Several problems with his run-up, the stumps knocking in his delivery pass and other such things mean that he is no longer the bowler he was, but at best he was a threat to opposition batsmen and offered England something completely different.
View day one of the second test between South Africa and England from 7.30 am on Friday on Sky Sports Cricket.