8 March 2007
England - The Team Of The Future?
England's cricket team has been through mixed fortunes in the past 12 months, a miracle performance to draw the test series 1-1 with India last March, followed by being demolished 5-1 in the one-day series. Then against Sri Lanka the English threw away several chances to win the test series, eventually drawing it 1-1, and were then whitewashed 5-0 in the ODI's. They improved against Pakistan, taking the test match series 3-0 and coming back from 2-0 down to draw the one-day series 2-2. This was followed by an early exit in the Champions Trophy, and then the disaster which was the 5-0 Ashes whitewash by Australia, before coming back from nowhere to win the Commonwealth Bank Series against their fiercest and greatest enemies.
Now the World Cup lies ahead of us, and England are expected to progress to at least the Super Eight stage of the competition, but whatever happens in the Caribbean, England can go home safe in the knowledge that they have possibly the team of the future back home in the domestic cricket scene. England can come home knowing that excitable talent and a very bright future lies ahead of them, in 5 years England could have one of, if not the best group of players in the world.
For the future, England already have established players such as Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Monty Panesar in the team. Cook and Panesar are still very much youngsters, and let's not forget that Pietersen is very much in his prime at 26, with possibly another decade of exciting cricket ahead of him. But along with them, England have a great range and variety waiting in the wings behind them. Young batsmen such as Nick Compton, Neil Dexter, Will Jefferson and James Benning wait behind them, with the wealth of talent and skill needed for the international scene, a talented all-rounder in Ravi Bopara - who impressed on ODI debut - has a promising future ahead of him, keepers such as Matt Prior and Steven Davies could become world class players behind the stumps, the fast-bowling pair of Liam Plunkett and Stuart Broad have the potential to be our Wasim and Waqar, or Walsh and Ambrose, along with Amjad Khan, who is good, and the classy spinner which is Adil Rashid hs the same potential as Monty Panesar does.
As well as that, England also have a great young set of players for back-up in the future, players such as Michael Yardy and Sajid Mahmood could become accomplished players in their own areas of the game and could prove to be sufficient back-up for the team of the future. This England line-up can be more than capable of challenging the likes of Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, New Zealand and Bangladesh in the next few years, and probably even beating them.
It could take a brave man to bet against England, which could well be skippered by Ian Bell or Pietersen, enjoying an era of success, and I think an England team 5 or 6 years down the line could consist of:
And then with back-up such as Mahmood, Yardy, Dexter, Prior, Benning, Khan and Dalrymple behind them, an England team a few years down the road could be world beaters, and for good reason too.