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England All Time ODI XI

A pinprick of 130,279 sq. km landmass in the northern Atlantic, the British Empire in its heyday ruled over 24% of the Earth’s total land area. Innumerable consequences were imposed on the lands which were conquered, the majority of which can be termed as brutal. Amongst these was also the widespread of the ‘gentlemen’s game’, one which seems trivial when compared to the other byproducts of colonisation.

Since 15th March 1877, when Australia hosted England for the first official international cricket game, the sport of bat and bowl has grown and changed immensely and unsurprisingly, so has the English National Team. Though the trait of flamboyance is one of the weird similarities between the current and 19th-century English setup, flamboyance can’t be mistaken for a characteristic trait, for there is a Boycott and Atherton for every W. G. Grace and Ben Duckett.

England never quite had a period of domination in the test arena as compared to the stronghold mentioned in our article’s opening line and this was only amplified in the white-ball game. Having made the finals in 3 out of the first 5 World Cups, the Three Lions’ campaign always ended in agony. Things only got more bleak as the years passed, with England having a W/L ratio of less than 1 in the 90s and 00s.

48 years had passed since the first-ever ODI match, but England were yet to win an ICC tournament in this format. Arguably, the lowest trough in this period transpired at Adelaide in 2015, where England was knocked out in the group stages of the 2015 World Cup by Bangladesh.

In any graph, the region after the trough is where the rise occurs, and in England’s case, this rise culminated in them being crowned World Champions in 2019. Currently, the English ODI team is in yet another trough, having finished 7th in the 2023 World Cup.

Thus, here’s our All Time England ODI XI, celebrating the format’s traditionalists-cum-trailblazers.

Jason Roy

One of the players to receive his debut right after the 2015 World Cup disaster, Roy is one of the proper representations of the blueprint that Strauss laid down for England’s white-ball setup. Possessing the 5th best strike rate in ODI history (min. 1000 runs), Roy’s debut innings ended in a golden duck, but that couldn’t deter his aggressive approach at the top.
Roy has crossed the 30+ mark 53 times in ODIs, and 79% of those times, he scored at a rate better than 100.

  • Matches: 116
  • Runs: 4271
  • Average: 39.92
  • Strike Rate: 105.53

Roy has definitely benefited from playing in the easiest era for ODI batting, but he has gone toe-to-toe with batters of his generation, featuring in the top 10 run-getters since his debut. A 116-match career doesn’t get him many points under the longevity criteria, but that is true for all the other contenders for this particular spot.

After a horrific 2017 Champions Trophy, Roy had his career highlight in his only World Cup, scoring 443 runs @63.28 with a scoring rate of 115.36.

Jonny Bairstow

The format’s greatest ginger-batter, both Roy and Bairstow had stern competition from Gooch for the opening spot, but that’s covered later on. Inheriting the nickname of Bluey from his late father, Jonny made his ODI debut in 2011, but things remained gloomy till 2016, with Bairstow playing only 22 matches in this period, where he scored his runs at an average below 30.

  • Matches: 107
  • Runs: 3,868
  • Average: 42.98 (44.12 as opener)
  • Strike Rate: 102.93 (105.99 as opener)

However, fortunes flip-flopped as Bairstow was moved up the order. His maiden ODI innings came when Roy was dropped ahead of the 2017 Champions trophy semis. Ironically, Roy-Bairstow went on to become one of the most successful opening acts in ODIs, scoring 2,922 runs at an RPO of 7.05 (5th best amongst all opening stands with a minimum of 500 runs).

Bairstow’s 5-year stretch from 2017-2021 was one of the most fruitful periods for an ODI opener, where he scored 75% of his career runs @53.91 and with a strike rate of 108.74.

Bairstow is one of three men to have a 40+ average and 100+ strike rate in ODI history (minimum 2500 runs).

The last couple of years have been awful for Jonny in ODIs, including a no-show in the 2023 World Cup, but English fans will never forget his 532-run campaign in the 2019 World Cup.

Joe Root

The epoxy which held the English demolishers together, Joe Root’s ODI journey has been a mirror-image of his national side’s peaks and valleys. Joe’s most powerful attribute is his strike rotation in the middle overs. Root’s dot-ball percentage of 44.6 was the 3rd lowest amongst all batsmen in ODIs from 2001-2020.

  • Matches: 170
  • Runs: 6,522
  • Average: 47.6
  • Strike Rate: 86.77

An authentic successor of Johnathan Trott, Root is one of the most consistent batters away from home, with his away average of 48.96 being the 9th best amongst batsmen with a minimum of 35 away matches. An elite batting workhorse, Root has constantly added innovative shots to his armoury throughout his 11-year career. A terrific player of spin, Root averages 62.28 against the slower bowlers.

Having played in 3 World Cups, Root is England’s highest run-getter in ICC tournaments and had the 5th highest aggregate in the 2019 campaign.

Eoin Morgan (C)

When the whole cricketing world saw a 20-year-old fighting it out with his fellow Irish teammates in the 2007 World Cup, none of them would have been able to predict that he would go on to become England’s most prolific ODI batter and be featured as the captain in today’s article. Yet here we are.

  • Matches: 225
  • Runs: 6957
  • Average: 39.75
  • Strike Rate: 93.89

Morgan switched allegiance in 2009 and initially oscillated between no. 5 and 6, but his records exclusively at no.4 stand out amongst the best. 3,396 runs @46.52 with a strike rate of 98.03, only De Villiers and Viv Richards have both a better average as well as a better strike rate at number 4 (min. 1500 runs). A brutish bat swing almost resembling that of in golf, Morgan’s 15 MOTM awards are the most for any English player.

Morgan had ordinary World Cup and away records, averaging 34.17 and 34.33, respectively. However, his performance improved in the Champions Trophy, where he averaged 43.9 across 3 editions.

Apart from his batting accolades, Morgan will go down as one of the most revolutionary ODI captains whose reign was christened with the chaos of 2015 but culminated with the 2019 World Cup triumph.

Ben Stokes

One of the few showmen of this cricketing generation, England seems to have a way with larger-than-life all-rounders. Though over, it’s Stokes’s batting which has pipped him over the other for the number 5 spot.

  • Matches: 114
  • Runs: 3,463
  • Average: 41.23
  • Strike Rate: 95.69
  • Wickets: 74
  • Average: 42.39
  • Economy: 6.05

Making his debut in the aftermath of yet another disappointing English World Cup, Stokes was a slow starter, averaging 20.15 with the bat for his first 34 games. However, the next four years proved to be his peak years, which included top performances in two ICC tournaments.

Talking about ICC tournaments, Stokes is England’s best performer when it comes to the big stage with only Kohli and Dhawan scoring more runs at a higher average than him across World Cup and Champions Trophy matches.

His output shoots up at the number 5 position, where he has scored 1,995 runs at an average of 48.65. Although his bowling is a pale shadow of his test exploits, he has the 5th-best average difference since his debut (minimum 1500 runs and 50 wickets).

Jos Buttler (WK)

One of the premier white-ball batters of the sport, World Cup 2023 has damaged the reputation of this very tag; however, Buttler’s accolades in the 11 years prior to the tournament stand out amongst the cream of the format.

  • Matches: 181
  • Runs: 5,022
  • Average: 39.54
  • Strike Rate: 117.09
  • Dismissals: 258

A batter who has a shot for each region of the circular arena, Jos Buttler’s strike rate of 117.09 is the 2nd best in ODIs (min. 50 innings). Having journeyed throughout the middle-order in his 13-year career, Buttler’s striking prowess has been exhibited throughout the world, with his scoring rate being in excess of 100 in the 10/11 countries he has batted in. Endowed with top-gear acceleration owing to his opening stint in T20s, Buttler’s conversion rate of 29.73 is the best amongst lower-order batters, and he is the only ODI batsman to have 3 sub-50 ball centuries.

A dismal 2023 World Cup where he averaged 15.33, Buttler was one of the key members of the 2019 campaign, with his strike rate of 122.83 in that tournament being the 9th best in a single World Cup edition (min. 200 runs).

Affecting the 7th most dismissals in ODI history, Jos will also don the gloves in the XI.

Andrew Flintoff

The bewitching badboy of English Cricket, Freddie’s test-match statistics are not the apt advocate for the cult that he has developed amongst his supporters and biggest rivals, but his numbers in ODIs serve better justice.

  • Matches: 138
  • Runs: 3,293
  • Average: 31.97
  • Strike Rate: 89.14
  • Wickets: 168
  • Average: 23.62
  • Economy: 4.33

The leader of the english-bowling attack for the majority of his career, he acquired the new-ball in only 5 matches for his captains knew of his prowess with the old cherry. Proprietor of iconic spells of reverse swing,

Flintoff’s average of 14.96 and economy of 5.57 in death overs is the 2nd and 5th best respectively, since 2002 (min. 100 overs).

A terminator with the bat, his bludgeoning timing was best displayed at number 5, where he averaged 46. However, we have slotted him at 7 due to other batters’ preference, his disappointing average of 18.78 with the bat in World Cups, and below-par production against the top sides of his time. However, he did step up with the bowl when it came to ICC tournaments, averaging 21.46 across 27 games.

The weightage of dependence that the English side had upon Flintoff is shown by the fact that Flintoff was the 3rd highest run-getter and the highest wicket-taker for England during his 10-year career.

Flintoff’s average difference of +6.73 is the sixth-best in ODI history (minimum 1500 runs and 75 wickets).

Ian Botham

One of the few cricketers whose graph had a persistent negative slope with respect to time, Botham’s test legacy largely overshadows his feats in ODIs, much like our no.10, but his down-the-ground heaves along with his both-way swingers meant he did just enough to make it into our England All Time ODI XI.

  • Matches: 116
  • Runs: 2,113
  • Average: 23.22
  • Strike Rate: 79.26
  • Wickets: 145
  • Average: 28.54
  • Economy: 3.96

Standing at 6’2, Botham’s power-hitting in the V was oddly yet predictably inconsistent during his 17-year ODI career and the primary reason for which he has been picked in this XI is his 145 ODI wickets. Surprisingly sharing the new ball for only 27% of his games, Botham also surprisingly struggled at home, faring better away by an average difference of 4.44. It’s unfortunate that he had ordinary numbers against the top 3 batting sides of his era, but none of his 9 opponents truly dominated him except maybe for Ashes rivals Australia, against whom he averaged 33.48.

One of the extensively documented late-career blues, Botham averaged 41.68 with the bowl from 1986-91′ but had a renaissance in the 92′ World Cup, being the 3rd highest wicket-taker of the tournament with an economy of 3.44. In fact, his World Cup economy of 3.43 is the 7th best for bowlers with a minimum of 15 wickets.

Moreover, one shouldn’t underestimate Beefy’s striking ability even in ODIs. His strike rate of 79.26 was the 8th best in the period he played in (min. 1500 runs).

Darren Gough

The freight train whose reverse-swinging yorkers proved to be the prototype for his successor Freddie, Gough was as much a character as the former.

  • Matches: 159
  • Wickets: 235
  • Average: 26.42
  • Economy: 4.40
  • Strike Rate: 36.04

Described by fans as a “skiddy” bowler, Gough had to battle injuries throughout his 13-year career. For his first 6 years in ODIs, he picked up 108 wickets @23.89, but this average shot up to 28.57 in the latter half. One of the few bowlers whose average away from home is superior to that at home, Gough, unfortunately, was ineffective in Asia, where he averaged 40.75 across 22 games.

Gough never had the privilege of a world-class team to support him, with England having the 5th best bowling average during Gough’s playing days and a win-loss ratio of 0.827, and it’s in these times that a dressing room requires a character like Gough who turned up in the big games; having an average of 23.46 across 9 tournament finals.

James Anderson

A pacer whose legacy lies within the red-ball arena, Anderson’s 14-year ODI stint goes under the radar. Well, it’s true that Jimmy’s ODI exploits and career are a shadow of his accomplishments in tests; Anderson is the highest wicket-taker of England in this format.

  • Matches: 194
  • Wickets: 269
  • Average:  29.22
  • Economy: 4.92
  • Strike Rate: 35.6

Funnily, Anderson made his international debut through the 50-over game, and his second series was the 2003 World Cup. Also funnily, the 03′ campaign, where Jimmy was just 20 years old, proved to be his best World Cup campaign. In fact, Jimmy’s World Cup record is quite pathetic, to say the least, averaging 40.03 across 4 editions. But he did hold his weight in the Champions Trophy, averaging 21.76 across 12 games.

Overall, Anderson is England’s highest wicket-taker in ICC tournaments.

Facing 16 national teams across 12 countries, Australia and India were the only ones to constantly trouble him amongst the top 8 sides. Like Gough, Asia was Anderson’s nemesis, where he, too, averaged in excess of 40.

A new-ball bowler, Anderson has bowled the 2nd most overs within the first 10 overs since 2002. Always struggling in the later part of the match, it remains a question whether Anderson could have improved on that facet of his game if he continued playing in ODIs after 2015, considering that’s the very period where he had his renaissance in Tests.

Graeme Swann

We had immense issues choosing the best English spinner in ODIs, but more on that later. Nearly 8 years separated Swann’s first and second ODIs, but Swann managed to make the most of his 7-year stretch. After all, Swanny was known to make the most of the limited opportunities.

  • Matches: 79
  • Wickets: 104
  • Average: 27.76
  • Economy: 4.54
  • Strike Rate: 36.6

Possessing a deadly arm-ball, Swann was a conservative spinner in the days when cricket was getting revolutionised with the advent of T20s. Deprived of a googly, a weapon of the majority off-spinners of his era, Swann’s miserly economy of 4.54 is commendable though he did struggle away from home, averaging 34.98.

Ironically, inconsistency was an issue for as accurate a spinner as Graeme was, with 2010 being his finest, picking up 28 wickets at 18.68 apiece.

He didn’t have the best of outings in the two Champion Trophies but was one of the few positives for the side in his solitary World Cup, taking his wickets at an average of 25.75.

Players Who Missed Out/Honourable Mentions

Graham Gooch and Kevin Pietersen: Two of England’s finest players of spin, though with contrasting approaches, let’s start with the former.

Gooch was amongst the top openers of his 20-year ODI career, which saw him collecting 3 World Cup finalist medals, but unfortunately, he was against two modern-day butchers. For context, Gooch’s adjusted strike rate in Roy’s era stood at a paltry 80 when adjusted with respect to the top 7 batters, and even if we change the adjustment factor to only openers, his strike rate only goes up to 88.58 compared to Roy and Bairstow’s 105+ scoring rate. Additionally, Gooch had 2 great World Cups out of 3, but one of them came as a non-opener. Hence, the modern-day duo overwhelms Zappie.

Moving onto Pietersen, his competitors were Morgan and Stokes. Now, we do rate Pietersen as the better ODI batter amongst the 3 due to the former’s superior World Cup and away record, but Morgan’s fantastic record at number 4 and, more importantly, how there’s no competitor to his captaincy spot (with Gooch ruled out), meant Kev missed out against him. As for Stokes, the need for a 6th bowler, along with the fact that Stokes actually measures quite well against Pietersen purely as a batter except for away performances, proved to be the difference.

Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes: Yet another pair of current English players; if we picked both of them, then the XI would have featured 8 such players, and they had very good arguments for themselves. Adil is England’s 3rd highest wicket-taker, but we chose Swann because of his superior career statistics and performance against the top sides, though Rashid edged him out in the longevity as well as away performance criteria.

As for Woakes, it was yet another close call. Anderson was picked ahead due to his Champions trophy (Woakes has had mediocre World Cup campaigns) exploits and 59% more matches, and Botham triumphed in the World Cup litmus test, additionally with the fact that Botham was a far superior batter too.

So England All Time ODI XI is

  1. Jason Roy
  2. Jonny Bairstow
  3. Joe Root
  4. Eoin Morgan (C)
  5. Ben Stokes
  6. Jos Buttler (WK)
  7. Andrew Flintoff
  8. Ian Botham
  9. Darren Gough
  10. James Anderson
  11. Graeme Swann

12th Man: Kevin Pietersen

Extras: Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes and Graham Gooch

Sidharth Basu
Sidharth Basu
An avid follower of the game since 2011, I am a student by profession. Generally follow the Indian cricket team and the IPL and have an admiration for the past cricketing greats

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