An all-time England XI based purely on players’ career peaks in the ICC ODI rankings.
There are a number of surprising omissions (only one member of England’s 2019 World Cup squad make the XI) and the odd inclusion that might raise an eyebrow, too. The XI consists of the top four ranked batsmen, the highest ranked player in the batting rankings that has been a regular wicketkeeper in international cricket, the highest two all-rounders, the top three ranked quicks and the highest ranked twirler.
ICC all-time batting ranking: 22, career-best ranking: 3 (November ’87)
125 ODIs, 4,290 runs @ 36.98, 8 100s, HS: 142
Like the majority of this XI, Gooch is revered far more for his exploits in Test cricket than in ODIs. Gooch appeared in three World Cup finals (losing all three) and averaged an impressive 44.85 across 21 World Cup matches, albeit at a thoroughly 20th century strike-rate of 63.25.
Jonny Bairstow (wk)
ICC all-time batting ranking: 62, career-best ranking: 5 (March ’21)
89 ODIs, 3,498 runs @ 47.91, 11 100s, HS: 141*
Remarkably the only 2019 World Cup winner in this XI. One half of the most destructive opening combination in the format’s history and a key figure in England’s 2019 World Cup winning campaign, hitting a pair of hundreds towards the business end of the tournament in two must-win games.
ICC all-time batting ranking: 4, career-best ranking: 2 (June ’83)
114 ODIs, 3,170 runs @ 40.73, 7 100s, HS: 158
Despite a relatively mediocre ODI career record, Gower actually recorded the highest ICC ODI batting points tally of any Englishman in the format’s history during a particularly valuable purple patch in 1983 where the stylish leftie averaged 63.88 over 20 ODIs.
ICC all-time batting ranking: 33, career-best ranking: 1 (March ’07)
136 ODIs, 4,440 runs @ 40.73, 9 100s, HS: 130
Not a huge surprise, Pietersen is another who upped his game at the big events – he averaged 48 at World Cups.
ICC all-time batting ranking: 13, career-best ranking: 1 (October ’89)
122 ODIs, 4,010 runs @ 19.31, 4 100s, HS: 118
Pivotal in England’s 1983 and 1987 World Cup campaigns, averaging 70 and 60 in the two tournaments respectively. His career strike-rate of 75.54 was slightly ahead of his time.
ICC all-time all-rounder ranking: 3, career-best ranking: 1 (November, ’03)
141 ODIs, 3,394 runs @ 32.01, three hundreds, HS: 123
169 wickets @ 24.38, three five-fors, BBI: 5-19
An ODI phenom in the early years of the 21st century. Across 2003 and 2004, Flintoff averaged a remarkable 50.56 with the bat and 19.54 with the ball in ODI cricket.
ICC all-time all-rounder ranking: 14, career-best ranking: 1 (May ’80)
116 ODIs, 2,113 runs @ 23.21, no hundreds, HS: 79
145 wickets @ 28.51, no five-fors, BBI: 4-31
Given his domination of the Test game in the first half of his career, Botham’s ODI numbers are surprisingly unimpressive. Gets into this side on the basis of being England’s second highest ranked all-rounder in the ICC’s historical rankings.
ICC all-time bowling ranking: 69, career-best ranking: 1 (July ’11)
104 wickets @ 27.76, one five-for, BBI: 5-28
A world class finger-spinner in all formats, Swann was both frugal and a regular wicket-taker. Adil Rashid is the only England spinner to take more ODI wickets than Swann.
ICC all-time bowling ranking: 49, career-best ranking: 3 (January ’00)
234 wickets @ 26.29, two five-fors, BBI: 5-44
England’s second-highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket – only James Anderson has more than Gough’s 234 in the format. Quick and feisty, Gough was a key figure in England’s ODI set-up for the best part of a decade.
ICC all-time bowling ranking: 11, career-best ranking: 2 (June ’79)
80 wickets @ 24.60, no five-fors, BBI: 4-11
Of bowlers to take 50 or more men’s ODI wickets, only Joel Garner has a lower economy-rate than Willis’ 3.28.
ICC all-time bowling ranking: 44, career-best ranking: 3 (July ’00)
63 wickets @ 27.42, no five-fors, BBI: 27.42
Only an England ODI regular for three years, Mullally is a surprise inclusion in this team. He makes it after enjoying an excellent year in 2000, averaging 21.66 with the ball with an economy rate of just 3.08.