Michael Powell's first two years as a pro with Warwickshire were 1994 and 1995 and he was still around to contribute significantly in 2004.
So he has plenty of championship-winners to pick from for his My Bears XI.
Michael Powell’s My Bears XI
At the top of the order, the former skipper, an opener himself, selects two men from whom he learned much.
“First up, I’ve got to go for my mentor Andy Moles,” he said. “I opened with Andy on my debut and he was probably the most instrumental of anyone in how I played. With my abilities, I knew I couldn’t bat like many others, but he was someone I thought I could try to emulate. It didn’t matter who the bowler was, Moler found a way. He was very dogged, a wonderful batsmen for Warwickshire and a great Bear.
“He would definitely be number one, then it would have to be Nick Knight. His ODI performances for England were spectacular and he should have played more Tests. He just happened to be around against some great bowlers who you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
“Nick and Moler are a great right/left hand combination and I learned so much of both of them.”
At three four and five, Powell has plenty to wonderful players to choose from, but it is hard to look beyond Brian Lara, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott.
“Some really good cricketers won’t get in the top five. Brian must get in. I played with him in ’98 and while, in 1994, my first year on the staff, I didn’t play with him, I was around the dressing room a lot and saw the impact he had. A wonderful batsman who would have been great in any era.Michael Powell
“Then it’s Belly and Trotty. Belly’s record speaks for itself and I’ve known him since he was about six years old and first came into the nets at Rugby Cricket Club. I saw his maiden hundred from the other end when we opened the batting at Oxford and he made so many fantastic hundreds for the Bears and England.
“Warwickshire brought Trotty across from South Africa while I was captain…another magnificent player and it’s pretty harsh on him to be coming in at five. But it might be good not to have him and Moler batting together. Only the stalwarts would remain in the stands!
“Then I’m going to have to squeeze in three all-rounders. One will be a wicketkeeping all-rounder coming in at six. As much as Keith Piper was the best keeper I have seen, Kumar Sangakkara has got to get in as a ‘keeper batsman. He is probably the best number six you could have in any side! In a perfect world, I’d have Pipes with the gloves and Sanga with the bat but, in the modern day, you have to play Sanga. He was wonderful to watch and one of the best cricketers in the world.
“At seven I’m going for Dougie Brown. With Dougie you knew that he didn’t care which end he had , he just wanted to bowl. As a captain, it’s brilliant to have someone who you know will put in the hard yards when you are away at Durham early season when it’s cold and windy. Dougie can go at seven with Shaun Pollock at eight. Polly will open the bowling but is a match-winner with bat or ball and another lovely man.”
And to open the bowling with Pollock, his countryman…
“The number one paceman has to be Allan Donald. I never played with anyone better when it comes to sheer pace and having an all-round aura. He is a wonderful man too. I was glad he was on our side!Michael Powell
“Then I’ll go for Tim Munton – one of the best around. There wasn’t a sixpence he couldn’t hit, bowling at either end, so he’s got to get in the side. He was brilliant at hitting that length so that batters should couldn’t decide whether to go forward to back.
“As spinners, Ashley Giles and Neil Smith dominated my era and both were fantastic cricketers. I will go with Gilo because, as England found in the 2005 Ashes, a spinner who doesn’t turn it much can be a very useful fifth bowler! He can bowl round the wicket or over the wicket and do whatever job is needed.
“Ash was wonderfully supportive to me. He read the game and knew the game inside out. There are lot of wonderful cricket minds in My Bears XI but Gilo was wonderful. I’d love to also find a place for Neil because they were a great pair and when you have got the runs that we have in that top eight, two spinners could be very handy.
“Some wonderful cricketers – Gladstone Small, Trevor Penney – haven’t made the 11 but, if we can make it a 12, Neil is the 12th. I could probably pick a second eleven that would complete very strongly.”
And one name that does not make it into Powell’s My Bears XI…MJ Powell.
“Er, no!” he said. “It took me two and a half years so break into the Warwickshire side back in the ’90s and it was sometimes a battle to stay in it. I remember in 2004 I had to score three hundreds and a double-hundred in the second team just to get a sniff of a recall of the side. I don’t think I’d get in this one!
“I remember a few years ago in the shop at Edgbaston, there was some Lara t-shirts for sale and some Powell joggers…and my joggers were £5 more expensive than the Lara t-shirt!
“I’d definitely buy a Lara shirt before a pair of Powell joggers…”
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