It’s been brilliant for myself and the younger batters to see Cookie going about his business as we’ve been growing up. He’s a model professional, he’s shown that through his entire career. He hasn’t changed as a person. He’s the perfect person to look up to.
I want to say Nick Browne, but I should probably say Murali Vijay who was with us last year. He came to Essex and only played a handful of games but he scored bucketloads in a short space of time. He’s a lovely bloke as well.
I’ll go with Ian Bell. I played an MCC game with him a few years back, he’s obviously an established international and county cricketer. It was nice to see him up close because he’s one of England’s most elegant batters.
I’ve got to go with Joe Root, I played a few Tests with him a few years ago. If anyone is going to go on and break Cookie’s record, it will be him. He averages nearly 50 in Test cricket, pretty much in every format actually, which is testament to how good he is.
I’ll chuck Ravi Bopara in there. He can bowl a few overs if I need him to. He’s been such a great servant for Essex cricket. He’s played in every tournament in the world. He has about 35 teams under his belt. He’s a couple of years older than me and when you’d see him play first team, he’s always got so much time and brilliant on the eye. He’s also a champion of a bloke.
I’m going to put our captain in, and as captain of the team. Tendo, I know he plays for the Netherlands so he has played international cricket, but if he was an Australian or South African, well he is, he would have played lots of international cricket. His stats are ridiculous, I think it’s 67 in ODIs. But people overlook his first-class record where he averages 47 in predominantly English conditions. He’s a matchwinner and can turn games very quickly.
Purely on keeping I’d probably have to go for Ben Foakes. That’s a little harsh on James Foster. Fozzy is one of the best I’ve ever seen but Foakes’ glove work is phenomenal. The distance he covers standing back and his skills as a keeper are out of this world.
I was going to go for Harbhajan Singh who was great with us and is a lovely bloke. But sorry Bhajji, I’d forgotten Simon Harmer. He’s got to be in, he’s the best spinner in the world currently. He keeps getting 100 first-class wickets each year. The big red wrecking ball at eight.
Peter Siddle, the vegan, an absolute legend. Last season was his first with us but he could not have fitted into a changing room better. All the lads are so excited to get him back and he’s a world-class bowler. He’s immensely successful and I wouldn’t be surprised if he features in the Ashes.
We’ll have Broady at ten. He and Jimmy have broken the most records as an opening partnership and are just incredible. Funnily enough, I’ve not faced Broad in red-ball, but I have in white-ball.
I’ve faced him a couple of times, he just gives you nothing and it feels like he can get you out with every ball. I’ve only faced him in English conditions which is about the hardest challenge you can face.