ANDY FLOWER – Retired
When he came to us from Zimbabwe he was world No.1 batsman and it was fantastic to see someone stepping into the Essex dressing room who was able to take complete control of an innings like he could. He spent most of the time setting the bowler up to bowl bad balls at him – it’s normally meant to be the other way around! He was also phenomenal at playing spin, so he has to be in there.
ALASTAIR COOK – England
He is England’s greatest batsman of all time and has scored more centuries for his country than any other player – what more can you say? It speaks volumes for the qualities he possesses as a player, and he has shown it time and again for England as well as with us at Chelmsford.
NASSER HUSSAIN – Retired
Another England captain, I think Nasser’s inclusion is fairly self-explanatory. I haven’t played under Cooky as a captain, but I know from my time under Nass that he was a superb leader. Playing with him, it was clear to see his skills as a captain on the field, but also what an irrepressible player he was in his own rights as well.
STUART LAW – Retired
Stuart is without doubt one of the best batsman I’ve ever seen play – he averaged over 50 in first-class cricket, which isn’t a bad stat to have. He was one of my mentors as I came through as a youngster at Essex. During my first few years he helped me a lot, so his influence on my career has been quite strong.
RAVI BOPARA – Essex
Ravi’s destructive ability as a batsman is second to none, he is capable of taking an innings by the scruff of the neck and turning it around almost single-handedly. His shot-making is absolutely great, he has such a range – and that’s not to mention how handy he can be with ball. I’ve done well to squeeze two all-rounders in here.
RONNIE IRANI – Retired
As an all-rounder, Ronnie’s record is phenomenal. You only have to look at the wickets he took when he was fit enough to bowl to see that, and then when he came out just as a batsman and captain around the turn of the century with Essex he was truly dominant at times – he played some fantastic innings.
JAMES FOSTER – Essex
Quality keeper, batsman and captain, Fozzy is straight in behind the stumps. He has been so effective in all formats for us, and some of the catches I’ve seen him take are truly outrageous. The best keeper in this country, bar none.
MARK ILOTT – Retired
You’ll see what my plan is with the bowling attack, so Mark is the first of my left-armers to make the team. The way he controlled the new ball was phenomenal, and his ability to swing it as well caused batsmen countless problems. He once took 9-19 with a hat-trick of lbws, which is pretty impressive!
DAVID MASTERS – Essex
I’ve got to have Dave in there as an opening bowler. Not necessarily for his pace, but his blinding accuracy in every match is highly impressive, so that gets him in there for me. He has proven throughout his career what a consistent and dependable performer he is, and his experience is now proving priceless for a lot of the younger guys in the team.
REECE TOPLEY – Essex
Tall, young, fast – just a great athlete. I honestly hope this is his summer and he can break into the England side, certainly in one-day cricket. Has all the credentials of an international: he can bowl with the new and old ball and he’s a fantastic fielder as well. He really is a great prospect for Essex and England in my opinion.
PETER SUCH – Retired
This is where my masterplan comes together! Peter was a fantastic spin bowler in his day – he took 6-67 on his debut against the Aussies! And by including my two left-armers, that will give him some real footholes to work with and cause some trouble. You can probably tell I’ve put a lot of thought into this team!
This article was published in The Cricket Paper, May 22 2015