WORCESTERSHIRE’S England star Moeen Ali has been revealed as the cover star of a new, unconventional book about cricket.
Cricket’s Craziest Teams comprises 50 team announcements, full of real players, but selected according to their names. The offbeat humour book is aimed at the Christmas market.
It’s the brainchild of Midlands’ man Mark Slattery who grew up in Birmingham. Slattery says Moeen is his figurehead for several reasons.
“Moeen is my favourite England player. He’s got incredible talent, he’s thrilling to watch, he’s modest and adaptable, and he’s not had a fair crack of the whip from his country!”
The all-rounder has been making headlines this autumn with starring roles in both the IPL and the recent World T20 campaign for England. In Cricket’s Craziest Teams however he features in the Gardening XI.
“The Gardening XI is made up of players whose names sound like gardening terms. Alongside Moeen, who sounds like mowing, I have West Indian Ivan Barrow, Tip Foster, Ted Peate and two for whom I’ve taken slight liberties, Tommy Greenhough and Jomel Warrican. I don’t think anybody will ever have the surname watering can, so he’s as close as we’ll get!”
The book – available from Amazon – has been described by a former BBC journalist as ‘an abstract confection of wacky ideas and connections.’
It features teams put together from real international players in their proper roles, but selected on the basis of their names.
Other teams include one based on birds, baking, cars, being macho, tradesmen, the law, religion, drinks, body parts and even dogs.
Slattery says he followed Worcester as a lad.
“In 1982, I went to see England play at Edgbaston. It got me interested in county cricket and I followed both Worcestershire and Warwickshire,” he said.
“Phil Neale captained the team at the time, and I have a virtually photographic memory for the team sheet. I remember watching current England umpire Richard Illingworth bowl, and they were a very good team: D’Oliveira, Radford, Newport, Rhodes – it was full of high performing players.”
All those years staring at scorecards seem to have paid off with the new book, which Slattery said ‘is an ideal gift for anybody that likes cricket, or humour in the I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue style, because it’s very word-orientated’.
It also features obscure stories about players who are not well-known such as the law enforcement named player who retired and became a chief of police and the England woman who was dropped in favour of her own sister, then never played again.
The cartoon of Moeen was provided by a former Cambridgeshire player, Patrick Latham, a talented artist who has drawn for the Barmy Army and other publications.
He appears alongside Rory Burns, who is in Slattery’s Illnesses XI along with the likes of another Worcester and England star Graeme Hick.
“Hick and Stephen Fleming are two minor ailments in the team,” Slattery adds, “which also features Tim Paine, the former Aussie captain,” he added.