*My favourite player series is where we ask you to tell us who your favourite player is, why they're your favourite player and your best memory. This is a brand new series that is open to anyone and everyone, so if you're interested, get in touch on Twitter. Today we've got a special treat, as the lads from the All About the Balls Podcast give us their favourite England players. Don't forget to head over and follow them on Twitter and give all their shows a listen, but especially the cricket ones.
Our Favourite England Cricketers - from the lads at All About The Balls
Ian, Gareth and Olly took some time on their weekly show to debate who would make the cut and be their official favourite England players of all time. It was a heated discussion but after much arguing and some inappropriate abuse at times, they finally settled on three absolute heroes…..
Gareth’s choice - Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff
Freddie was a genuine hero but was he that good when it came to the cold hard stats? Luckily we’re sharing our favourite England player so I don’t have to worry too much about the numbers.
He picked up 79 test caps which is impressive for a guy that was reportedly not that talented in his youth. Many feel that his batting was not the strongest but an average of over 31 isn’t too shabby from a guy who would often come in at six or seven.
But Freddie will always be my favourite and as my co-hosts pointed out, he created memories that fans will never forget. Amongst those are that famous run out in the Ashes and what about that over he bowled to Jacques Kallis? Within the space of just six balls he turned one of the most talented batsmen to ever pick up some willow into a gibbering wreck. And of course there’s what he did to Ricky Ponting in 2005 - oh that sweet, sweet summer!
Forget the stats - Freddie was one of those rare players who would genuinely empty bars
around the ground when he got involved. At his pomp there were plenty of fans who would pay just to have a chance to see him play and to this day the images of him roaring as he takes another wicket or commiserating with a fallen opponent will always mean Flintoff is held in the very highest regard.
I’m not sure if this is an official stat, but for me Freddie had the best “match win-ability” in the modern era and will forever be an icon in English test cricket.
Ian’s choice - Alastair Cook
Let me start with two stats:
● England’s most capped test batsman
● England’s highest Test run scorer
I could leave my argument there because really, what more needs to be said? However I’m
happy to go beyond the stats and look at the stories behind the numbers.
Cook played 159 consecutive tests for England which is an amazing feat and goes part of the
way to explain why he left such a void in the team when he retired. He was a proper test
batsman that would build long match winning/saving innings and he had that rare ability to take the game away from an opponent. He scored runs all over the world and who could forget the 750+ runs in Australia that helped England secure the Ashes.
Despite the records, Cook played with a modesty and spirit that endeared him to fans both from England and their opponents. There was a reason that Cooks century at the Oval in his final test was celebrated by so many. Cheers Chef - top work!
Olly’s choice - Robin Smith
We’re going to go back a bit for my favourite cricketer of all time, back to time when the West Indies dominated both the test arena and the nightmares of batsmen. For those who remember, this was a time of very fast bowling and impressive moustaches - a time when batsmen had to have both quality technique and a courage that you’d nowadays associate with the Avengers.
It was during this time that the Judge was able to use his bravery and stunning skill through the off side to not just survive but actually thrive. He picked up an average of over 43 at test level and his cover drive and square cut were as beautiful as they were brutal. But Smith could cross codes and his highest score of 167 not out in an ODI against Australia in 1993 wasn’t bettered by any English batsmen for over 23 years even despite the huge advancements in the shorter format.
There are so many talented England players but here’s my true test - if you pretend to be a
specific player when you’re with your mates in the back garden as a kid, then that’s your
favourite. I could never quite hit the ball as hard as Smith and I certainly didn’t stand tall as
another bouncer threatened to crack me in the head, but in my head and heart I’ve always loved the guy.