The Starting XI: England's Discarded XI

Blog Opinion

The Flower era has been characterised by players fitting in and playing and those that don't squeeze into the mould being discarded. There have been enough players that England have disposed of to make a 'Discarded XI'.

As English cricket becomes synonymous with maladroitness, it is worth discussing the resources that the selectors have available to them. Far more interesting than a torturous debate about which people should be in the side is looking at those that will not.

The Flower era has been characterised by players fitting in and playing and those that don't squeeze into the mould being discarded. Success has delayed the ditching of those that don't fit in with the teams 'ethics', but as we have seen with Kevin Pietersen it has come eventually. Others have not even been given a handful of games before being put to one side.

There have been enough players that England have disposed of to make a 'Discarded XI'.

<b>Nick Compton</b> – 9 Tests, 479 runs at 31.93. HS 117

Nick Compton was ditched pre-Ashes 2013 as the England management decided that Joe Root was the answer at the top of England's batting order. Compton had not set the world on fire, but with two hundreds in nine Tests he was no slouch either. While Joe Root is a fine player he has not flourished at the top of the order. By the end of the Ashes that took place in the summer Root had been moved back down the order, but Compton has remained in the international wilderness.

<b>Michael Carberry</b> – 6 Tests, 345 runs at 28.75. HS 60

If his treatment toward the end of the winter is anything to go by it is safe to assume that Michael Carberry will not be Alastair Cook's opening partner come the Sri Lankan Tests this summer. He was selected for the Test squad on blistering one day form, and was a surprise selection for the first Test this winter. Once in the side he did as well as any English batsmen at combating the pace of Mitchell Johnson. If we read between the lines this will not be enough to save his England career. His recent comments expressing his frustration at his omission from the one day team could well be the final nail his kit coffin.

<b>James Taylor</b> – 2 Tests, 48 runs at 16.00. HS 34

If county runs count for anything, there are few that are more worthy of England selection than James Taylor. He was picked for two Tests against South Africa in 2012 and was at the other end to watch a Kevin Pietersen masterclass. There was talk of him falling out with Pietersen, but that would not seem to the reason for his disappearance from the England side so quickly. There has been nebulous talk of issues outside the off stump and worries over his size. What we do know is that he isn't in England's immediate plans, despite not really being given a go.

<b>Kevin Pietersen</b> – 104 Tests, 8181 runs at 47.28. HS 227

What hasn't been written about Kevin Pietersen can be fitted inside the 140 characters of a tweet. He has had a more polarising effect than an electromagnet. Those that think he should have been sacked will not change their mind, those of the opposing view are no less intransigent. What we do know is that the list of players that have questioned his dropping is growing all the time. The truth will out, and come October when gagging orders are rescinded we will know more.

<b>Samit Patel</b> – 5 Tests, 109 runs at 15.57. HS 33

Not only was Samit Patel not really given a long enough run in the side, he was also played out of position. Patel is a top order batsman who bowls occasional off spin. England batted him at seven and picked him as a bowler. While the jokes about his weight are all too easy to make, Patel is a fine cricketer who was never really given a proper go in this Test side. In the limited overs team, a side that is even more suited to Patel's skills, his absence is all too obvious. Even with a T20 tournament in Sri Lanka, Patel was overlooked.

<b>Chris Woakes</b> – 1 Test, 42 runs at 25. 1 wicket at 96

At the Oval England got funky with selection. Chris Woakes was the man chosen to fill the all rounder spot. He did OK but James Faulkner, Australia's 'bits and pieces' player in the match, did a bit better. By the time the England squad was named for the return trip for the Ashes, Woakes did not feature. Instead Ben Stokes got the nod. What he did wrong in that one game is not known, but he hasn't played for England in an international since. He is on the fringes of the limited overs squads, but he looks a long way from Test selection.

<b>Jonny Bairstow</b> – 14 Tests, 593 runs at 26.95. HS 95

At the other end of the selection spectrum is Jonny Bairstow. He was persisted with beyond the point where others would have been dropped. What Bairstow shows more than anything else is the inability of this England team to create an environment in which young players can flourish. Rather than improving in this team Bairstow went backwards. In Australia he was not considered despite the batting failures of others, and he only got the wicket keeping spot when Prior's form had reached rock bottom. It is extremely unlikely that he will be in the England side any time soon.

<b>Chris Tremlett</b> – 12 Tests, 53 wickets at 27. Best bowling 6-48

In a vain hope that he could rediscover his form of the Ashes tour 2010/11, Chris Tremlett was recalled for this recent tour. The evidence on which this selection was based was sketchy at best. The England management's seeming love affair with tall bowlers meant he made the plane to Australia despite disappointing returns with Surrey. He played the first Test in Australia where it was clear that his best was long gone. He hasn't been seen since.

<b>Graham Onions</b> – 9 Tests, 32 wickets at 29.9. Best bowling 5-38

'What has Graham Onions done wrong?' will be one of the great questions that future generations will ponder. He did well for England until injury and has taken wickets for fun in the County Championship. He is another player that just doesn't fit. It is yet to be determined if he is a whistler. As England's bowlers were flogged around Australia by Davey Warner, the most successful seamer in the county game was playing first class cricket in South Africa.

<b>Simon Kerrigan</b> – 1 Test, 0 wickets. Best bowling 0-53

If you did not feel sorry for Simon Kerrigan you have a heart blacker than a one day sight screen. There are few times that an international cricketer has had such a poor debut. He cut a forlorn figure as he was ignored by his captain in the second innings at the Oval. When what the lad needed was an arm around the shoulder from his captain at mid off as he was told 'just do what got you here'. Instead he was left at long leg and treated as a fielding substitute. The most frustrating thing is that Kerrigan is a fine bowler. Now Swann has retired he is probably the best spinner England have.

<b>Steven Finn</b> – 23 Tests, 90 wickets at 29.4. Best bowling 6-125

At one time Steven Finn was the future leader of the England bowling attack. Now he has 'fallen out of love with cricket'. He was taken along on the Ashes tour, but his form had deserted him to the point that his