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Wisden’s uncapped County Championship XI of the 21st Century

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

On the latest episode of the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, a panel consisting of Wisden Cricket Monthly editor-in-chief Phil Walker, Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine editor Jo Harman, Wisden.com managing editor Ben Gardner and Wisden head of content Yas Rana picked an uncapped County Championship XI of the 21st century.

The criteria for selection was straightforward. Only performances in the County Championship were taken into consideration and only players without a Test cap could be selected. Those with international appearance in limited overs cricket, but not Test cricket, remain eligible for selection.

Here’s the XI the panel came up with:


Daryl Mitchell

13,920 first-class runs @ 38.34; 39 hundreds, HS: 298

A Worcestershire legend who spent the entirety of his English domestic career at New Road before his retirement last summer. His peak came in 2017 when he reeled off seven hundreds in that year’s County Championship.

Wayne Madsen

12,940 first-class runs @ 38.62; 32 hundreds, HS: 231*

In many ways, Madsen’s career mirrored that of Mitchell. Both were consistent top order run-scorers for ‘unfashionable’ counties whose performances generally went under the radar. Madsen – who is currently in his 14th season at Derbyshire – was the competition’s second-leading run-scorer in his sole season of Division One cricket back in 2013.

David Sales

14,140 first-class runs @ 39.27; 29 hundreds, HS: 303*

Another whose career ended with a first-class average just below 40. Sales earned 11 England A first-class appearances, averaging 41 with two hundreds to his name for the second string England outfit.

James Hildreth

17,850 first-class runs @ 41.22; 47 hundreds, HS: 303*

Now 37, it is now a near certainty that Hildreth will end his career without an England cap. Hildreth’s most prolific period coincided with perhaps the most formidable England top six of the last fifty years. He can count himself unfortunate to have never represented England in Test cricket.

Ali Brown

16,898 first-class runs @ 42.67; 47 hundreds, HS: 295*

A record-breaking white-ball cricketer who is the owner of an ODI hundred and two List A double centuries, Brown was a key cog in Surrey’s trophy-winning machine at the turn of the century. Brown possesses the highest batting average of anyone on the list.

Darren Stevens

16,411 first-class runs @ 35.06; 37 hundreds, HS: 237
586 wickets @ 24.30; 31 five-fors, BBI: 8-75

An icon of the county game. Still going strong weeks before his 46th birthday, Stevens is as effective as ever. In 2021, he was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year, making him the oldest recipient of the accolade since 1933.

Craig Kieswetter (wk)

5,728 first-class runs @ 39.23; 11 hundreds, HS: 164

Kieswetter was just 26 when he played his final first-class game as an eye socket injury brought about an unfortunately premature retirement. Before that, he was good enough to keep Jos Buttler out of the Somerset XI and was the Player of the Final in what was, until 2019, England’s only triumph in a men’s global tournament.

Glen Chapple

985 first-class wickets @ 26.71; 39 five-fors, BBI: 7-53

A Lancashire great whose international career was restricted to just four overs in an ODI against Ireland in Belfast back in 2006. Chapple boasted a superb England A record, taking 32 wickets at 19.40, but never represented his country in Test cricket.

Gary Keedy

696 first-class wickets @ 31.39; 35 five-fors, BBI: 7-68

Given the fortunes of England’s spinners before the emergence of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, Keedy can count himself unlucky never to have played Test cricket. In a four season spell from 2003 to 2006, Keedy took 226 first-class wickets at 25.91.

Chris Rushworth

573 first-class wickets @ 22.36; 29 five-fors, BBI: 9-52

A county cricket behemoth who has dominated the domestic game for over a decade. A regular feature around  the top of the county wicket-taking charts, Rushworth, surprisingly, has never featured for England Lions in first-class cricket, never mind England.

Mark Footitt

352 first-class wickets @ 26.21; 21 five-fors, BBI: 7-62

Genuinely quick and the leading wicket-taker in the country in 2014, Footitt came close to an England debut, touring South Africa in 2015/16 but it never quite happened.


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