England fans have voted for the nation’s best ever Test XI, with current stars Joe Root, Alastair Cook and James Anderson all making the cut alongside favourite faces from the past.
A survey completed by 6,108 supporters ahead of this week’s historic 1,000th Test for the England men’s team came up with the side, which was drawn from a shortlist of more than 100 options.
As England’s record run scorer, most prolific century-maker and most capped Test cricketer Cook earned his place alongside Yorkshire great Sir Leonard Hutton, while Anderson’s status as the country’s leading wicket-taker guaranteed him a place in a lethal pace attack.
He joins Fred Trueman and Bob Willis, supplemented by Sir Ian Botham – whose status as England’s greatest all-rounder remains unchallenged.
David Gower and Kevin Pietersen took numbers three and four in the batting line-up, Alan Knott won the battle for the wicketkeeping gloves and Graeme Swann saw off all-comers among spin bowlers.
As ever, though, most fierce debate might concern those who did not get the call.
W.G. Grace only played 22 Tests, the last of which in 1899, but is one of the sport’s most influential figures, while Graham Gooch and Alec Stewart occupy numbers two and three on England’s run-scoring charts.
Geoffrey Boycott, Wally Hammond, Sir Jack Hobbs, Denis Compton and Ken Barrington are among the undisputed batting greats to miss out, while the likes of Jim Laker, Derek Underwood, Sydney Barnes and Stuart Broad all had compelling cases.
A celebration of the team will take place on Friday at Edgbaston, the third day of the first Specsavers Test against India.
Current England captain Joe Root said: “To be selected in the best ever England men’s Test XI side by cricket fans across the country is incredibly humbling.
“When I think of some of the incredible players who haven’t made the cut, legends of the game such as Denis Compton and Wally Hammond, I’m not sure I would have voted for myself, but I certainly want to thank the fans for thinking of me.
“It’s great to see my current team-mates Alastair Cook and James Anderson be recognised for their contributions to England Test cricket too.”