The summer tour to Oz and the November internationals showed that currently the key players for England are, in no particular order, Lewis Moody, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Tom Croft, Nick Easter, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden (and of those key players, 2 are currently crocked).
Everyone else in the squad of 33 are, I would argue, no more than squad “fillers” falling into 1 of 3 categories:
1. honest and reliable plodders who will never be key players but won't let you down;
2. players with real potential to be key players for the future; and
3. players who will never be key players and who rarely perform.
In an ideal world there should be no players from category 3 and a healthy balance between the first 2 categories, with the balance probably favouring the players with potential. Despite, however, the emergence of some major talent in the England ranks in the last 12 months we still find ourselves with a number of players in the squad of whom you have to ask:
“Does his presence in the squad make victory in the next game more likely?”
And, unless the answer to this question is a resounding “YES” the next question has to be:
“So what’s the point?”
All of which brings me to the most important question:
“Are there any players not in the squad who, if added to the squad, would make victory in the next game no less likely but who have the potential to make England a much better team at the World Cup?”
In other words...
“Who are the wildcards?”
Ladies and gentlemen, for no reason other than my own self-indulgence I give you three names:
- Joe Marler
- Andy Saull
- James Simpson-Daniel