Although cricket is believed to have been invented in England, the English are rarely considered to be the best in the world. They are certainly one of the top teams, but they have a habit of falling at the final hurdle, of disappointing their diehard fans during the big tournaments. The English game is one of the strongest and richest in the cricketing world, and this has fed the England national team with some of the best players that the game has ever seen, but combined, and when it matters, those players have struggled to make as much of an impact as they perhaps could have done.
The England cricket team consists of players from both England and Wales, and until 1992 Scottish players were also invited to the team, before they broke off and created their own team. The England team, along with Australia, were the first ever to play an international test match and to this day England’s biggest rivals are Australia.
England are regularly ranked in the top 10 and over their long history, beginning in 1877, they have played close to 1,000 test matches. They have been ranked as the world number 1 on a previous occasion, but this is not a ranking that they held onto for long.
Andrew “Freddy” Flintoff is one of the most successful England players in recent years, and one whose fame and personality extended it beyond cricket. You’ll have to search long and hard to find anyone in England who doesn’t know who he is or what he did. As a renowned fast bowler and consistent batsman, Flintoff’s career didn’t last very long, with injury and fitness problems cutting his career short. He spent just 11 years as a professional, but the impact he made in that time was huge. One of his biggest performances was in the 2005 Ashes, in which he was voted as the Player of the Series, earning himself legendary status in the process.
Ian Botham played his last Test series before Flintoff played his first, but his impact on the English game was just as impressive, if not more so. Botham was an all-rounder, a player who excelled in all areas of the game, and one who even received a knighthood for his services to cricket. Botham holds a number of Test records, arguably the most impressive of which is his achievement of taking 5 wickets and scoring a century in an innings in the same test match, something which he managed 5 times, and which no one else has done more than twice.
The only English player to make it in Dickie Bird’s Legendary XI, IS Alan Knott, who also made it into the ICC Hall of Fame. Knott played in a different era to the names mentioned above, making his debut in 1967, but his impact on the game was huge and over the course of his 20 year International career, ending with an ODI against Australia, he achieved a record that any player in history would be proud of.
England have never won the ICC World Cup, despite being considered one of the game’s biggest teams. In the first 5 World Cups, hosted from 1975 to 1992, they made it to three finals and two semi-finals, but failed to clinch the title. Their record in the ICC Champions Trophy is also one of “close but no cigar”, but they did succeed in the ICC World Twenty20 in 2010, claiming one of their biggest victories to date, and their first in a major International tournament.
This tournament was held in the West Indies, and whilst England were certainly one of the shorter-priced teams, they were not the favorites and went into the tournament as the 6th seed, with Pakistan as the first and Sri Lanka as the second. England had a little luck in the group stage. They lost to the West Indies by 8 wickets and knew that a victory against unseeded Ireland would secure passage to the next round, only for them to watch as the game was abandoned. This meant they finished on the same points as Ireland, but edged ahead of them because of their run-rate.
Hopes were not high after this, with many predicting that England would fail to make it through the Super 8s, but those predictions would prove to be false as England won all three of their games, including against South Arica and New Zealand, both of whom were seeded higher than them prior to the start of the tournament.
In the Knockout stage England edged Sri Lanka and then beat their old rivals Australia to claim a success that had looked very unlikely prior to the tournament’s start and during its early stages.
Elsewhere, England have also won the Ashes a few time, an event that is contested between England and Australia, but in multi-stage tournaments played on a global scale, the 2010 Twenty20 is their solitary victory.