Neil Carter was one of the best - and most entertaining - seam-bowling all-rounders of his era at Warwickshire.
No surprise, then, that his My Bears XI has at its heart a quartet of seam-bowling all-rounders who would probably get in any side on the world.
- Nick Knight
- Mark Wagh
- Jonathan Trott
- Ian Bell
- Kumar Sangakkara (WK)
- Rikki Clarke
- Heath Streak
- Shaun Pollock
- Chris Woakes
- Ashley Giles
- Jeetan Patel
- Trevor Penney
At six, seven, eight, nine in the order: Rikki Clarke, Heath Streak, Shaun Pollock and Chris Woakes – though, as ‘Carts’ points out, any of those could go in anywhere.
“At six, I’ll go with Clarkey, though with this six, seven, eight, nine any of them could go anywhere in the order,” he said.
“Rikki was one of those guys who can bat and bowl in all formats. With the batting we had, we could bat him at number seven, which was a real luxury. He was such a clean striker of the ball. He never looked in discomfort at the crease or unsettled.Neil Carter
“He was just a huge natural talent and it was the same with bowling. He just seemed to jog in and hit a natural length without even thinking. He reminds me a little bit of Dale Steyn who would start telling a story to you at mid-off when he was walking back, then ran up to bowl, hit a perfect line and length, and then carried on telling the story walking back again.
“Rikki was also a brilliant slip-catcher. I remember he took quite a decent catch to get me my 50th championship wicket in the 2010 season.
“At seven, I’ll go with Heath Streak – a champion bloke who came with huge respect. A couple of warm-ups and then he would run in all day, hit line and length with very good skill. He was a serious talent with the bat as well. I remember that T20 when he played a phenomenal innings against Worcester.
“At eight it’s Shaun Pollock. He came to the Bears in my second year and I remember one game, at home to Leicestershire, standing at wide mid off next to him when I was the only person in front of square and he just rattled off a string of maidens. Just chatting to him and watching him bowl and ply his trade was a privilege.
“I remember him hitting the clock tower at Trent Bridge with one of the biggest sixes ever hit there. He was one of the cleanest strikers of the ball I’ve seen – I’d have loved to see him in the Big Bash or IPL.
“I’ve got Woakesy at nine, though he could go in much higher, of course. I remember Woakesy’s debut back in ’07 and him bowling to Mark Ramprakash in his prime on his debut. Ramps got a hundred but only had about 12 when Alfonso Thomas dropped an absolute sitter at mid on which would have given Chris his first wicket.
“What a wonderful bowler he developed into and he made batting look so easy. I said from an early age he would bat at six for England, but he also picked up pace with his bowling.
“That’s four great all-rounders – and these guys are world class blokes as well as players!”
And to back up those seamers in Carter’s My Bears XI come a couple of nifty spinners at ten and 11.
“At number ten, I’m going with Ashley Giles,” he said. “A great guy, who made me very welcome when I first came into the side and then made the transition to coaching and learned quickly and went from strength to strength.
“Ash was an outstanding cricketer and his careers stats for England reflects that. He played hard but it was always good fun and good banter and it’s great to see he’s in charge of England now and doing a great job.
“At 11, it’s Jeets: the best overseas player that has ever played anywhere for any cricket team in the whole world. To play 95 per cent of the games for one club for ten years as an overseas professional is just phenomenal. It’s up there with taking 600 Test wickets as a seam bowler.
“He had everything, his skills and day-to-day energy and passion and enthusiasm for the club and helping the youngsters and being a real true Bear. “
So that’s a formidable bowling attack in Carts’ team. So who’s going to score the runs?
“I’ll open with Nick Knight and Mark Wagh,” he said. “I first met Knighty in South Africa when he joined up with Warwickshire after an England tour and it was clear what a top-class batter he was in all formats. He went on to captain the Bears to the championship title and I had a few really enjoyable moments batting with him in the middle in one-day cricket.
“With him I’ll have Mark Wagh. When I joined Warwickshire, I bowled to him in practice and saw him play and just thought this guy has immense talent. On his day, he was one of the most elegant batters to watch. I always enjoyed watching from the other end because he batted in such a relaxed manner.
“At three and four, of course, it’s Trotty and Belly…what more can be said about them? You are not going to find two better top order batters. They were serious players for Warwickshire and England and were always keen to come back and play for their club. They carried on for a long time after their England careers.Neil Carter
“They were proper players. You knew that if you bowled a good line and length, they treated you with respect and that’s what I always tried to do when I bowled at them in the nets. If you bowled a bad ball they would hit it, but if you bowled well, they respected that. It was always good to practice against them because if they played a defensive shot, you knew you had bowled a good ball.
“They had so much time on the ball, it as a joy to watch them.
“At five, I’ll go for my keeper Kumar Sangakkara. He was different class and some of the knocks he played on difficult pitches were brilliant. I had one or two good partnerships with him. It was good fun out there and he started calling me ‘Sanath’ after Sanath Jayasuriya because he thought I batted like him! In a couple of games I outscored him and he said to me ‘I’ll just sit here, mate, and you carry on.'”
Neil Carter’s My Bears XI is one phenomenal team – and the twelfth man is one phenomenal fielder…
“My twelfth man is Trevor Penney,” he said. “One of the best blokes around to add to the rest. A twelfth man might have to go out and do some fielding and Trevor was one of the best ever. He was serious player who almost made it into my XI. Always positive, always such good energy and prepared to help out the youngsters. Just a top bloke all round.”
T20 Quarter-Final: Tickets only £10
Birmingham Bears will host Hampshire Hawks at Edgbaston on Thursday 7 July (6.30pn) in the Vitality Blast quarter-finals.
Adult tickets are available from £10, when you buy in advance of the day of the match. Under 12s go FREE and 12 to 15-year-olds are £1. Members and Season Pass holders go FREE.