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Barring an alpha male, England's middle order has everything: dashers, artists, stonewallers, and all of them graceful
August 3, 2009
Below are 10 names, traversing the ages, and all worthy of inclusion in England's all-time XI. As we sift through the contenders, the battle for England's middle order is perhaps the most open category of all. England has a wealth of talent at its disposal, but it also lacks an alpha male of the stature of, say, Don Bradman or Viv Richards.
Wally Hammond perhaps comes closest to being that automatic selection, but even he could not command 100% approval from our jurors. And besides, for the sake of balance, how would you weigh your side? Would you pack it with dashers - David Gower, Ted Dexter and Denis Compton competing for élan - or would you consider a sheet anchor an essential requirement, and slip Ken Barrington into the mix as well?
If the shortlist reveals anything, it is how the English game is still governed largely by nostalgia. Kevin Pietersen is the only modern-day batsman considered for selection, while Gower is the only representative from the seventies and eighties. The bulk of the contenders are post-war pin-ups - Cowdrey, May, Dexter, and of course Compton - the likes of whom contributed to the only era in which England was unequivocally the best Test team in the world.
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