All-time XI: England August 27, 2009

Pietersen makes all-time England XI

Cricinfo staff

Kevin Pietersen is the only player from almost the past two decades to make it into the all-time England XI chosen by Cricinfo, with Ian Botham the next most-recent star to make the cut.

Pietersen's selection, by a panel of renowned cricket writers, journalists and commentators, confirms the impact he has had on the game since he made his Test debut in 2005, but there are no places for anyone else who contributed to England's Ashes victories in 2005 and 2009.

The opening positions are taken by Jack Hobbs and Len Hutton, two of the true legends of the game, and they are followed by Walter Hammond at No. 3 and Ken Barrington at No. 4. Pietersen, who is still in the early part of his career but is already recognised as a match-changing batsman, only just made it to final XI, beating off strong competition from Denis Compton, who captured the hearts and the minds of English fans in the post-war years.

Andrew Flintoff and Tony Greig both made it to the shortlist for allrounders, but Botham won that contest hands down. "A proven century-maker, unlike Andrew Flintoff, and capable of bowling either fast like Harold Larwood, or outswing like Fred Trueman," Scyld Berry, the editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, wrote about Botham. "Hammond at first slip and Botham at second would make a formidable cordon beside Alan Knott."

Knott was the unanimous choice as the wicketkeeper. Sydney Barnes and Harold Larwood won the premier fast bowler's positions by an overwhelming majority, but it was a closer contest for Fred Trueman who had stiff competition from Frank Tyson. Bob Willis was the only modern fast bowler who came close to selection.

The sole spinner's position went to Derek Underwood, who beat Jim Laker by a single vote.

Last month Cricinfo produced a definitive all-time great Australia team, which didn't include any members of the current Australian line-up. Over the coming year, the website will turn its eye to all of the top Test-playing nations and round off the deliberations with an all-time World XI.

Cricinfo also asked readers to select their all-time XIs and the only two differences were that David Gower was voted into the middle order ahead of Barrington and Laker took the spin position from Underwood.

For more details click here.

The nominees

Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Herbert Sutcliffe, Mike Brearley, Geoff Boycott, Graham Gooch, Mike Atherton, Michael Vaughan

Middle order
Wally Hammond, Ken Barrington, Kevin Pietersen, Colin Cowdrey, Peter May, David Gower, Stanley Jackson, Frank Woolley, Ted Dexter, Denis Compton

Ian Botham, Tony Greig, Andrew Flintoff

Alan Knott, Bob Taylor, Les Ames, Jack Russell, Alec Stewart

Fast bowlers
Sydney Barnes, Harold Larwood, Fred Trueman, Bob Willis, Alec Bedser, Frank Tyson, John Snow, Darren Gough, Brian Statham

Hedley Verity, Wilfred Rhodes, Jim Laker, Derek Underwood

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on August 30, 2009, 16:40 GMT

    A couple of times, maybe more, in reading the comments on England's finest XI selection there has been reference to uncovered wickets and the greater skills of batsmen before the covered the wickets, which incidentally came about because everybody wanted to watch more, not through some spiteful octogenarian's desire to make the youngsters of the modern era look like weaklings,lesser men than their predecessors. But if you reverse the arguments then you will have to select only modern bowlers as they have had to slave away on relative shirtfronts. On that count Messrs Barnes, Larwood.Trueman and early Underwood were not quite the real deal they have been made out to be. Other factors which might be taken into account are the modern lbw rule and the front foot noball rule. Another factor which is not really taken into account much is the vastly improved fielding.How much would Bradman's 99 av be worth now? Of course it may be that great in one era would translate to another.

  • Hayden on August 30, 2009, 1:55 GMT

    I'm surprised Godfrey Evans didn't make at least the short list for keepers- he played 91 tests in the 1940s and 1950s, got 219 dismissals and was known as being very dependable.

  • Rick on August 29, 2009, 16:20 GMT

    It's hard to do better than follow Sir Don Bradman's formula for the ideal composition of a playing XI which is presented in his book "The Art of Cricket". The particular choices of players are not important as long as they are reasonable. The formula is: Two openers of whom one is preferably a left-hander (Hobbs, Sutcliffe - no good left-handed openers), three other batsmen with at least one left-hander (Hutton, Hammond, Woolley), one all-rounder (Botham), one wicket-keeper who's also a good bat (Ames), one fast bowler to bowl with the wind (Typhoon), one fast/medium pace bowler into the wind (Trueman), one classical right-arm spinner (Laker), one left-hand orthodox finger-spinner (Rhodes). Unfortunately, there's the mystery bowler Barnes, whom I cannot leave out. If the pitch is taking spin I'd leave out Rhodes, as Laker is capable of running through a side on his own. Else I'd leave out Laker and pick Rhodes to add depth to the batting.

  • shweta on August 29, 2009, 16:09 GMT

    well kevin pietersen is a terrafic batter n he deserves where he will find himself........n dats all time English XI..........where theres no freedie nor vaughan...i am not an English girl so i am givin an unbiased opinion..................KP is loved n admired in India n m a journo n i hav gone all oveer world n ahv had convo with many retired greats n they hav all liked n admired Kpz game n his insiticts..............he is deserving candidate of this honour...........his record speaks for himelf.......

    n well record is not everything..........he brings confidence n attitude to this english side which was missing in it for many many years........hez an Impact player n it is very rare to find an impact player ..........player who can set an impact on the game and on the team

  • Sheldon on August 29, 2009, 14:39 GMT

    I've just watched John Snow knock Terry Jenner's head off in the 1970/71 Sydney Test on YouTube. Yep, Snow should have been picked. Larwoods bouncer might have been faster, but Snow's has to be more vicious.

  • Sheldon on August 29, 2009, 14:29 GMT

    Bedser was the most successful English seamer to play against Bradman and picked up his wicket 6 times. Bradman also chose Bedser in his all time greatest XI list. So, I think we can say maximum6 that Bedser was considerably better than Hoggard and other modern swing bowlers.

    Incidently, Hedley Verity was rated by Bradman to be the best English spinner he faced. Verity got Bradman out a record 8 times when Bradman was at his peak prior to WWII. Verity would also be less predictable than Underwood who tended to bowl at medium pace on flat wickets. The West Indies took a terrible toll on Underwoods bowling figures (ave over 100) as they played him to the onside rather the Aussies who chose the offside. I think that either Bedser or Verity should have been picked in the all time England XI as the number one priority would be to dismiss Bradman cheaply. So, Verity or Bedser in for Underwood depending on the state of the pitch, remembering that Barnes can bowl leg and off spin anyway.

  • Ram on August 29, 2009, 14:11 GMT

    Gower would not make to a 80s World XI or a 90s XI. He was not even one of the best batman in the world during his times.. same thing is true for Gooch, Stewart, Fraser or Hoggard or any of the 80s to present players..

    ofcourse, the exceptions would be Botham, Pietersen, Boycott, Snow and Willis. They are quite good. How many of these are good enough is entirely a different question...

    If the idea conveyed in some of the comments is that England never had great players.. If the players selected to the XI is no better than a Hoggard or a flintoff or a Robin smith... then I am ok with that.. We can select blindly any 80s to present players to the All time XI as there is nothing much to choose from among these "modern" players...It would also imply England was never had a great side becoz England was always an average team from 80s to the present..

  • Barath on August 29, 2009, 13:48 GMT

    KP does play across the line but his hand eye co-ordination is excellent and it is his strength.

    He can get out by playing across if he gets over confident or is too eager to play a shot. It would give a chance for the bowler to just shape it away and as he plays inside the line he can get bowled or caught behind but more often than not he succeeds by playing across the line.

    He can become better if he plays a bit more late and looks to play a bit more in the V as however good he maybe across the line he still can't hit everything through the leg side but his technique is good enough and the proof is he went to Australia and against the likes of McGrath and co averaged over 50. He has also succeeded against other top teams like Saffers and India

    In the recent Ashes though he wasn't in good form yet he averaged nearly 40!

  • Michael on August 29, 2009, 12:50 GMT

    Interesting comment about Snow- he could do a few things with the ball, and was underrated in his career let alone after. For a period of two or three years Willis was faiirly supreme too, and not just in 1981. The trouble with England quicks is that they are too injury prone and get to just above 200 wickets and then fall apart or get the sack. How much better were Bedser or Barnes than say Fraser or Hoggard? Re Pietersen I immediately thought he was like Viv, and really who was better than Viv? Lara? Inzy? And who has played with that easy mellifluity better than Gower? Was Knott better than Taylor or was it for the batting he got the place? Was Stewart, the self made keeper best of all three,tidy always and a a better opener than Gooch?

  • Sheldon on August 29, 2009, 11:56 GMT

    Jokistan, Robyn Smith could not play leg spin. He wouldn't last more than 10 minutes against Warne or O'Reilly on a 5th day pitch. Alan Lamb has a test average of only 36. This is simply not good enough.

  • No featured comments at the moment.