Former Surrey batsman Michael Brown picks his top XI
Welcome to our expanded, illustrated presentation with statistical summaries of the selected players
1. Andrew Strauss
I was at Middlesex with him in the first few years of my career and, like me, he was a former Durham University boy. He had an ability to see it for what it was, aside of his natural ability, he was just very mature, good fun and could laugh at himself and had the game to play at the highest level.
2. Justin Langer
He was the overseas player at Middlesex when I was 19; he was the kind of guy that you just thought if I want to get somewhere I need to take a leaf out of his book. I remember my first 12th man duty for Middlesex, I was in the dressing room when Langer got out, he walked in and picked up an apple and threw it a foot above my head and I was sat there with apple peel and core all over me.
3. Brian Lara
That was just a freak meeting really when I was playing in the Rwandan Cricket Foundation after I had retired. We had a couple of fist bumps and glove taps but I was just thinking:‘God, this is good.’ He would’ve been 42 at the time but he still had the aura, the swagger and back lift that everyone remembers.
4. Mark Ramprakash
He was a player I became good friends with at Surrey and I played with him at Middlesex as well. I respected how talented he was and how much cricket meant to him. His first class record was incredible and he always gave you the time to help with batting tips and advice.
5. Kevin Pietersen
I played with him at Hampshire. A natural talent who I got on well with and there’s one situation that stands out for me: we were 10-3 in a One Day game against Essex, KP went in at four and played like a god.
6. Andrew Flintoff
I played with him as a nine-year-old in the Lancashire U11s when he was my captain. He was a match winner with both bat and ball, could change a game – played it hard, enjoyed a drink and the kind of character you want in the changing room when the chips are down.
7. James Foster
I’m a bit biased as he’s my best mate, but probably wicket-keeping wise there hasn’t been any better in the world in the last ten years. I lived with him for five years, so when I played against him there was always banter going around about what you got up to in the nightclub the previous week.
8. Shane Warne
An absolute legend, I recall his ability to get the best out of you and make you express your talent without fear. He also had the ability to tell you what he was going to do in the huddle, the following batsman would come in and low and behold he’d deliver the strategy and get him out.
9. Shane Bond
Shane played at Hampshire as an overseas for a number of games. I remember a seven-fer he took against Sussex, they were 300-3 and we took the second new ball and bowled them out for around 330. An ex-policeman and off the field he was a top lad and he’d always have a beer with you after the game.
10. James Anderson
I played a lot with Jimmy in my younger years at Burnley Cricket Club. He started off as a tearaway quick, who shaped it away and the skill is shown in refining his skills – the wrist control and the ability to swing it in and out.
11. Chris Tremlett
Had a natural ability to bowl a heavy ball and was a top lad as well. I lived with him for a few years and he wasn’t shy of having a loaf of bread and eight cans of Guinness when we were allowed to let our hair down on the odd occasion.
Top billing: Kevin Pietersen, Mark Ramprakash, Andrew Flintoff and Shane warne