Ali - Caddick, 2004

England Players in 2003 - part 1 of 5

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The following players appeared for England in Tests and one-day internationals in the calendar year 2003. All statistics refer to the full year not the 2003 season.

Kabir Ali (Worcestershire)
A young seamer could not ask for a better venue to get started, but Headingley's damp was worse than usual: Kabir's first one-day international, against Zimbabwe, was rained off before he could take the field. And although he struck with his fifth ball in Tests at the same ground, this time against South Africa, he soon lost the confidence of his captain, and was left out at The Oval amid mutterings about excess girth. Asian and goodlooking, and with a well-publicised website (www.kabirali.com - "Professional cricketer and model"), Kabir epitomised the new breed of England cricketer, not least perhaps in that he appeared not quite good enough. Though his bowling had some of Waqar Younis's old virtues, Kabir was well short of his pace.
2003:1 Test: 10 runs @ 5.00; 5 wickets @ 27.20
1 ODI: did not bat or bowl.

James Anderson (Lancashire)
The magic ultimately faded a little, but few players have acquired the Midas touch as quickly. After being summoned from the Academy to join the senior squad for the VB Series, the 20-year-old Anderson was soon bowling like an old pro to return figures of 10-6-12-1 against Australia at Adelaide. Four wickets destroyed Pakistan on a balmy World Cup evening at Cape Town, and not even a crucially wayward over during the defeat by Australia could dampen the enthusiasm. Anderson was seen as both a saviour and sexy: his chameleon-like coiffures led to the fancy that here was cricket's answer to David Beckham. Five wickets on Test debut against Zimbabwe at Lord's further enhanced his reputation, as did a hat-trick, England's first in one-day cricket, against Pakistan at The Oval. Anderson's eventual tally of 41 one-day wickets in 2003 was bettered only by Lee, Muralitharan and Ntini. But as expectations increased, his Test returns went the other way. A buffeting from Graeme Smith - not to mention a mid-pitch shoulder charge - was a harsh dose of reality for the boy from Burnley Thirds, and his opening bursts against South Africa often felt like exercises in damage limitation. England used the excuse of a knee niggle to give Anderson a much-needed breather from the Bangladesh Test series, but he cut a peripheral figure in Sri Lanka after twisting an ankle playing squash. A wicketless return during the Third Test at Colombo was a disappointing end to a year that had probably begun too well for his own good. There remained some doubt about whether he was being over-bowled or over-cosseted, not having played enough to learn resilience ("Burned out?" said Mike Selvey. "He's never been burned in.") And, though he retained a beautiful swing bowler's action, purists noted that Anderson was looking at his feet rather than down the track.
2003: 8 Tests: 45 runs @ 22.50; 26 wickets @ 34.84.
24 ODI: 21 runs @ 4.20; 41 wickets @ 22.53.

Gareth Batty (Worcestershire)
When you come perilously close to drowning, which Batty did while bodysurfing in the Indian Ocean in November, being out of your depth on the field is less of a worry. But, after a promising start, he was struck down by Croft/Salisbury syndrome: he batted spunkily down the order, and was even promoted to No. 6 in the final Test in Sri Lanka, but posed little genuine wicket-taking threat. His absence of natural drift away from the right-hander made it hard for him to acquire the off-spinner's extra dimension of hitting the outside edge. In Sri Lanka, on helpful pitches, every scalp took more than 20 overs to arrive.
2003: 4 Tests: 136 runs @ 22.66; 8 wickets @ 63.00.
1 ODI: did not bat; 1 wicket @ 35.00.

Martin Bicknell (Surrey)
After a world-record 114 Tests between appearances, Bicknell was brought in to sex down England's young, over-exuberant seam attack for the last two Tests against South Africa. His was a comeback in three phases: instant success, then toil as the unique demands of Test cricket took their toll on his 34-year-old limbs, and finally glory on his home ground at The Oval, where his nous was central to England's series-levelling victory. Workhorses of the world united in approval. There was a peculiar acceptance that this was a two-off comeback, and he was duly omitted from England's winter tour parties a few days later. But it was just possible it was not his last hurrah: there were signs of repentance inside the England camp about the 114 lost opportunities. After all, here was a bowler genuinely capable of making the ball swing both ways.
2003: 2 Tests: 19 runs @ 6.33; 10 wickets @ 28.00.

Ian Blackwell (Somerset)
Blackwell's eat-drink-and-be-merry philosophy of cricket was always going to bring problems at the very highest level and, despite adequate performances, he was dumped by England after the World Cup on suspicion of not being committed enough. He was ignored all summer but then recalled to the one-day squad for the tour of the subcontinent after showing devastating late-season county batting form. For England, his batting was racked by binary demons in the VB Series and never really recovered: his downfall at Dambulla - courtesy of a reckless cut shot - was typical of an unfulfilled year. His gentle left-arm spinners were innocuous yet also consistently economical.
2003: 12 ODI: 70 runs @ 8.75; 7 wickets @ 36.71.

Mark Butcher (Surrey)
It was a year of two halves. In the first seven Tests Butcher averaged 63; in the last six just 26. He began with a century at Sydney to redeem a poor Ashes tour, and was in delicious touch throughout the English summer - his other two centuries were also match-winners. In many ways it was a return to the old Butcher. Gone was the sobriety of 2002; in its place came a roguish charmer who sucked you in then often betrayed your trust with a loose stroke. His fielding was even more infuriating, and he was shifted out of the slips in Sri Lanka. Butcher also drew the short straw by failing against Bangladesh - there's always one - and though he scrapped hard in Sri Lanka, it was a struggle for him, as for everyone else. At Kandy, Butcher became only the second man to be stumped twice in a Test since 1956. When called upon to bowl, notably against Zimbabwe at Lord's, Butcher showed he can boomerang the ball dangerously in the right conditions: at the end of the year, his career strike-rate in Tests was better than Harmison's. He did make the World Cup, but only in the commentary box. Despite a maiden limitedovers hundred for Surrey, that elusive one-day international debut looked as far away as ever.
2003: 13 Tests: 979 runs @ 44.50; 5 wickets @ 25.80.

Andrew Caddick (Somerset)
A year that started with a bang and - at long last - a maiden ten-wicket haul in the Sydney Test fizzled out just as Caddick was set to clamber into the top five of England's all-time wicket-taking list. A stress fracture of the right foot was followed by the recurrence of an old back problem, and Caddick sat out the rest of the year as younger men fought over his wickets instead. When he was fit, Caddick remained the attack leader, with his experience and economy, his height and hustle. No one else in the side would have been capable of taking seven Australian wickets in an innings. But it was still hard to love him. At the World Cup, he made the mistake of riling India with some loose pre-match comments and was promptly hammered by Tendulkar in a game England lost. And his final role was to be ignored by Hussain at a crucial stage of the next match, against Australia, despite already having claimed four wickets in the innings. Dangerous, yet fragile - this was Caddick to the core.
2003: 1 Test: 15 runs @ 7.50; 10 wickets @ 21.50.
11 ODI: 64 runs @ 21.33; 17 wickets @ 22.58.

© John Wisden & Co