Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. Today we look at numbers 3, 4 and 5 in the third XI. For those who are new to the series, the introductory post can be seen here, the post introducing the third XI is here and the most recent post in the series is here.
With an all attacking opening pair, a player of a different nature was indicated for the number The slot. Jonathan Trott’s adhesive qualities at number three were seen at their finest in the 2010-11 Ashes series, when he helped Alastair Cook to save the opening game in Brisbane, shared a partnership with Cook at Adelaide that set the stage for Kevin Pietersen to deliver a mighty slaughtering and was the rock around which England’s innings in Melbourne was built after Australia had slumped to 98 all out in their first innings. A double century in the series against India in 2011 that saw England claim the world number one test ranking was also noteworthy. Trott’s international career ended up being terminated by mental health issues, but before that happened he had done comfortably enough to prove himself a top test match batsman.
The Kolpak ruling, named in ‘honour’ of the Slovenian handball player responsible for its creation enables players born in foreign parts but having home qualifications through one or both parents. Jonathan Trott benefitted from this ruling to come to England in the first place, but he was clear from the outset that he intended to qualify by residence to represent England, did so and did very well. My real objections are to players who do not intend to make their skills available to the national side but do intend to come and play anyway. I refer both to players who are signed as easy space fillers but who have no real international pretensions and to players such as Jacques Rudolph, Kyle Abbott and Duanne Olivier who had already played for their native land at full international level. Please note that I am not remotely bothered by birthplace or ancestry – I am concerned with who the players intend to make their skills available to.
A middle-order stroke player who averaged over 50 in test cricket, kept wicket regularly and occasionally had moments with his medium pace bowling, this man forms a neat counterpoint to those who immediately proceed and follow him. Shrewd observers will note that my numbers three and four are both right handed batters, which means that we need a second front-line left hander to go with Chamari Atapattu who is one half of an explosive opening pair, which brings us to…
With three of the top four very attacking in nature, someone who was a bit more of a sticker is called for at number 5. Hailing from one of cricket’s historic cradles, the area round Farnham where Hampshire and Surrey meet, the nuggety left hander averaged in the middle 40s for England at a time when dependable players of any description were at a huge premium for England. He started his international career with a debut century against Australia (had Graham Gooch been more aggressive with his declaration England may well have won that match) and made runs all around the world thereafter. Eventually he made way for Pietersen, a middle-order batter of very different but just as successful type.
I finish with some of my recent photographs: