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England - World Cup Ladder
11 Apr 2006
By: Matt Pitt

Team England
World Cup Claim To Fame:
Three-time runners-up, in 1979, 1987 and 1992, but have never won.
Two-line Profile:
1. Explosive but unsettled batting lineup.
2. Inconsistent in every department, but always dangerous.

1) Andrew Flintoff
Well, who else was ever going to top this list?

2) Kevin Pietersen
Now he has managed to scare that skunk away from atop his head, KP might be able to concentrate on his batting. He'll need to if England are to succeed in the tournament - he's the key figure of the middle order. Look for him to attempt to notch up the first-ever ODI double-century against either Kenya or Canada - look also for him to continue his attempts to become an all-rounder once again, having started out life as a bowler who bats. He will certainly be looking to improve on his ODI economy rate of eleven runs an over, that's for sure.

3) Marcus Trescothick
The hefty Somerset opener has become a crucial part of England's ODI side in recent years - his powerful cutting and driving at the top of the order is a great asset to his side. He is also England's vice-captain, and will take over should Vaughan get injured - more on that later...

4) Paul Collingwood
"A little bit of ginger hair. That's what I bring to sides." - Paul Collingwood, 2005. As well as being the token redhead in the side, Collingwood is an astoundingly sharp fielder, composed and gritty batsman, and tricky medium-pace bowler. An important late-overs player for England because of his quick running between the wickets, Collingwood will surely be one of the first on the plane to the Caribbean.

5) Michael Vaughan
A fantastic captain, but a batting average of less than 30 in ODIs, with no hundreds. If Michael Vaughan were not the captain of England, he would almost certainly be dropped from the one-day side - however, his captaincy is innovative, efficient and unfailingly positive, qualities which will serve England well at a World Cup. His ongoing knee injury is a worry - although given his batting record in ODIs, and Trescothick's capabilities as a stand-in captain, cynics would say it may solve more problems than it causes!

6) Steve Harmison
Three Geordies, a Welshman, a Lancastrian, a Yorkshireman, three South Africans and a pseudo-Australian in the Caribbean - it sounds like the opening line of a joke, but it's a reasonable guess at the makeup of the majority of the England World Cup squad. Harmison is the biggest name and the biggest frame of the three Geordies, having been ranked number one bowler in the world for a time and measuring approximately seventeen feet tall. He is a threat in ODI cricket, his pace and bounce making him the ideal complement to the accuracy and penetration of Flintoff.

7) Ashley Giles
He won't take any five-wicket hauls; he won't score any fifties; he won't take any blinding catches at backward point. What he will do, however, is plug away just outside the right-hander's leg-stump, go at around four runs an over, hit a few useful late-order runs, and provide some accurate throws from the boundary. He's also possibly the nicest guy in cricket - unless you criticise him in the papers, that is.

8) Simon Jones
An interesting case - injury has robbed him of the opportunity to play much ODI cricket, but in the games he has played, he has shown promise. He'll also ensure female interest in the tournament, and will no doubt ruffle a few feathers over the course of England's progress - he and Matthew Hayden nearly came to blows last summer, before the giant Hayden bizarrely backed down in the face of resistance from relative midgets Collingwood and Andrew Strauss.

9) Andrew Strauss
Likes playing Bangladesh (doesn't everyone?), but has so far struggled as an ODI opener against other opposition. Born in South Africa like Kevin Pietersen and Matthew Prior, he will be looking to prove his credentials over the next year, or he could find himself slipping down the ladder quickly. Can usually be relied upon to get out bowled, either through the gate or played-on to a cut shot.

10) Geraint Jones
Unfortunately for Chris Read, Jones chose to play for England, despite having heritage from roughly ninety-two other countries. He was born in Papua New Guinea, and rumour has it was approached by both Bulgaria and Argentina before making his England debut. Well, okay, that last bit was made up, but he was brought up in Australia, and has the personality to go with it - tenacious and committed, and showing no little flair in his batting. He has yet to back up his ability with runs, though, and given his debatable keeping skills - despite recent improvements - could find himself under pressure from one or two others should he not begin to deliver soon.

11) Liam Plunkett
The youngest and least aurally comprehensible of England's Toon Army, Plunkett showed his promise with 3-51 as a SuperSub on debut against Pakistan last year. He followed that up by scoring a fighting 56 from number nine in the order in his next game - a medium-fast bowler capable of extracting bounce and seam movement, Plunkett has shown promise in the 5 ODIs he has played so far, and it appears he will be somewhere in or near the first-choice XI come March 2007.

12) James Anderson
Like Pietersen, ditched the ridiculous coloured streak in his hair just in time - but also appeared to lose his ability to swing the ball at pace around the same time. Maybe the two are connected. In Pakistan last year, however, he showed some glimpses of the form that allowed him to become the first England bowler ever to take an ODI hat-trick, and may force his way back into the lineup should Plunkett fail to perform at any point. Is hindered somewhat by his inability to tell one end of a bat from the other.

13) Matt Prior
Another 'Pombok' of sorts, Prior is a batsman-wicketkeeper born in South Africa who has forced his way into the England reckoning with some impressive performances as a one-day opener in county cricket. Will most likely be named in the squad as both batting and wicketkeeping cover, and showed promise in his first few ODIs - but may find it tough to gain a regular spot.

14) Ian Blackwell
Ian Blackwell is a living representation of the good, the bad and the ugly sides of cricket. His ability to blast county trundlers into the next postcode is good; his propensity to serve up short, appetising bowling is bad; his fielding is just plain ugly. Unfortunately at international level he has yet to show the sort of form he does for Somerset - but due to a lack of spinning alternatives, he will probably go to the World Cup - more in hope than expectation, though.

15) Ian Bell
Yet to really be granted the opportunity to impress at ODI level, Bell is a nippy runner between the wickets and strong fielder, even if he lacks the ability to find the boundary with regularity. Do not be fooled by his ODI bowling average of 3.00, however - he is not, in reality, the single greatest bowler ever known to mankind, as that average would suggest.

16) Kabir Ali
No-one in England actually thinks he's any good. We're not even sure he does. The selectors do, though, and that means he'll be in contention when they're considering the seam-bowling unit for the tournament. More so than either of his cousins, Kadeer and Moeen, anyway.

17) Vikram Solanki
Highly talented but also highly infuriating, Vikram Solanki used to be England's go-to guy whenever they needed a batting spot filled - he has batted in every position apart from seven, nine and eleven for England, even scoring 39 not out from number ten against Pakistan as SuperSub. However, he was dropped from the original squad to play India, mostly because of his amazing ability to choose the worst possible shot to play in any given situation at any time.

18) Chris Tremlett
Was denied a debut hat-trick last summer when Mohammad Ashraful's bails refused to budge, but bowled impressively before injury denied him another opportunity against Pakistan. Comes from a cricketing family - a significantly better one than the aforementioned Ali family, with his father and grandfather both having been long-term servants of his own team, Hampshire.

19) Owais Shah
Started his ODI career promisingly, but was dropped following a run of low scores - may get a chance at number three or four in the order following an impressive season in 2005, but only in the case of injuries. Vaughan and Pietersen will not be dislodged any other way.

20) Gareth Batty
The very definition of middle-of-the-road - does exactly what Giles does, except not as well. Will be lucky to get on the plane - although a solid A tour to the Caribbean in recent weeks has done his case no harm at all. Needs to take more wickets in domestic one-day cricket.

21) Sajid Mahmood
Impressed on the recent A tour of the Caribbean, but his one ODI appearance so far was unsuccessful to say the least, as he went wicketless at eight runs an over. If selected, he could always ask his cousin Amir Khan for advice on how to succeed on the big stage. May undo all the good work done by Simon Jones in making English cricket accessible to the fairer sex, however.

22) Alistair Cook
Has a poor average in one-day cricket for Essex, but following his stunning Test debut at Nagpur, in which he scored 164 runs for once out, cannot be far from the selectors' minds. If he learns to rotate the strike to better effect, he will be a solid ODI player in years to come. Hopefully his early success at Test level will allow the tabloids to get all their ridiculous puns on his name out of the way soon. There's only so much 'Ready, Steady, Cook' a man can take.

23) Alex Wharf
Made an impressive three-wicket debut in 2004 against India, but has faded from the reckoning since then - looks more like the third Mitchell brother than an international cricketer, but is a useful if unthreatening seam bowler and capable late-order batsman. Needs an excellent 2006 if he is to force his way back into the reckoning.

24) Chris Read
Unquestionably a better wicketkeeper than both Jones and Prior, but the selectors remain convinced that his batting is not good enough. A good 2006 and continued failures by the other two keepers could see him back into the fold. Produced one of the funniest dismissals in Test history in 1999, when attempting to duck underneath a yorker from Chris Cairns and seeing his stumps, unsurprisingly, splattered.

25) Alex Loudon
A seemingly bizarre choice for the Test squad to tour Pakistan, he was not selected for the ODIs - but with Ashley Giles struggling with fitness and Ian Blackwell struggling with, well, most things, as a spinner-who-bats he'll be under consideration. Has a knuckle ball which has been widely misinterpreted as a doosra.

26) Rikki Clarke
The greatest all-rounder of the modern era? Probably not, but Rikki Clarke has proven himself a fluent and aggressive batsman in the Surrey middle-order in recent times, and can bowl some nippy seamers if needed, too. Despite having a girl's name and girl's hair, he may yet sneak a seat on the plane.

27) Robert Key
Rob Key would probably describe his ODI record as "patchy", but in reality it's just not very good. 54 runs from five innings at an average of 10.80 speaks for itself. What he lacks in concentration, he makes up for in ability to eat burgers - however, he does have talent with the bat, and is always a popular figure in the dressing room.

28) Darren Gough
Not technically retired from international cricket, but with his choice to appear on TV's 'Strictly Come Dancing' instead of touring Pakistan, he appears to have ruled himself out of future series. Nevertheless, a spate of injuries could see him recalled for one last stand.

29) Ed Joyce
Again, a more accomplished first-class player than in one-day cricket, but a talented batsman nonetheless - if he is not selected for England, he could yet find himself at the tournament representing Ireland. God knows what the England World Cup song would sound like with yet another accent thrown into the mix.

30) Jamie Dalrymple
An unfamiliar name, but one who has performed usefully in domestic one-day cricket for a while now - bowls nifty off-breaks, is a handy late-overs batsman and an outstanding fielder. A good 2006 could see him shoot up the ladder. Is always known as Jamie rather than James, to prevent sounding like a character from a Jane Austen novel.

31) Michael Yardy
Rose from nowhere last season to become a key part of Sussex's top order - needs to score more runs in domestic one-day cricket, but will be at the back of the selectors' minds should injuries occur to the batting lineup. Has no (known) association to the gang of London criminals of the same name.

32) Matthew Hoggard
Outstanding Test match bowler, but inexplicably innocuous at ODI level. Looks unlikely to be given many more chances, given that he adds little with the bat or in the field, and his ability to charge in all day is rather irrelevant with a ten-over limit in place. Needs a haircut.

33) James Hildreth
Must feel aggrieved by Gary Pratt's status as a cult hero following his Ashes heroics - he caught Ricky Ponting at Lord's as a sub fielder, off the bowling of Matthew Hoggard. Is an aggressive and highly talented strokeplaying batsman from Somerset - where have we heard that before? Do not be surprised if team-mate Trescothick puts in a good word for him with the selectors - Hildreth could well be going places.

34) Paul Weekes
Averaged more than sixty in the Middlesex middle order last year, and can bowl some capable off-breaks - however, doubts about the legality of his bowling action mean England are likely to steer clear of him for now. If he continues as the top List A run-scorer in the country, that could become more difficult in future.

35) Alex Gidman
Useful batsman and capable medium-pace bowler, Gidman is another in the series of bits-and-pieces all-rounders to press a claim for England selection in the past few years. He has talent, but rumour has it the selectors have a problem with his attitude. Will hope to perform better than Jon Lewis, Gloucestershire's last England cap, if he is selected.

36) Monty Panesar
Can't bat, can't field, but then some would say that about the likes of Key and Blackwell. If England decide Ashley Giles' batting ability is no longer necessary, they may plump for Panesar - but with only five List A games for Northamptonshire under his belt, this looks unlikely as it stands.

37) Gordon Muchall
Looked to have faded from prominence, but as a former Under-19 skipper, has been recognised as a talent in the past. Averaged almost 50 last year in List A cricket, and has become a key figure in a fast-improving Durham side. Would provide yet another Geordie presence in the side - must be something in the water up there these days.

38) Stuart Broad
Big, fast, aggressive - could become a big threat at international level in years to come. Is only nineteen years old, and 2007 will most likely come too soon for him, but he might see himself in the side for 2011. Has aspirations of being an England all-rounder, having formerly been a batsman - just when England have been waiting years for an all-rounder, a boatload of them come along at once...

39) Ravi Bopara
Another batsman-who-bowls, Bopara scored a century in first-class cricket against Australia last summer to confirm his promise. Could become a genuine all-rounder in one-day cricket if he develops his medium-pace bowling, and at only twenty years of age, has time on his side. Has earned himself the bizarre nickname of Puppy from his county team-mates.

40) Luke Wright
Was called up to the England A squad in the Caribbean along with Broad and Bopara recently, and although his List A stats are not outstanding, has potential as a bowling all-rounder. Can hit hard, and bowl accurately - but is unlikely to find himself in the England reckoning for a few years yet.

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