Do you remember the 1988 FA Cup final?
As an 11-year-old with a fondness for Liverpool - they were the best team of the time so that was my reasoning - I sat down to watch what many believed would be the country’s aristocratic footballing elite wipe the floor with the uncouth Wimbledon mob placed before them.
History tells us that it didn’t turn out quite like that, a Lawrie Sanchez header guiding the Dons to a 1-0 victory and a significant upset, but it is what followed later that summer which provides the crux of this article.
The England squad that travelled to the European Championships in Germany didn’t contain a single Wimbledon player.
Are you surprised by that fact? I doubt if you are given that Wimbledon were hardly renowned for the individual quality of the footballers they fielded and their cup success was founded on the principle of the whole being far greater than the sum of its parts.
A quick switch from a winter to a summer sport is now necessary and if you paid any attention to the announcement of England’s provisional 30-man squad for the upcoming World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, you may have grasped the fact that no Northamptonshire players have been included.
To repeat the aforementioned query, does this cause any surprise?
I dare say it might have, and a few individuals should count themselves extremely fortunate, and judging by a few comments on social media it certainly did, however, there are striking similarities with the Wimbledon triumph of almost 26 years ago which have been, in the main, utterly ignored.
The consensus of some is that because Northants won the Friends Life t20 last summer, it should be a natural succession for some of their number to graduate to the higher level.
Add to the mix the ignominy suffered by our national team at the hands of the Australians this winter (a different format but that apparently doesn’t matter) and the subsequent ire directed at the county game and you have all the ingredients for two and two equalling something other than the obvious.
Northants won the Twenty20, there is a Twenty20 tournament on the horizon, there can only be one outcome. Well, no actually.
International selection, by its very nature, has to be concerned with the choice of cricketers who are of international standard and this is where the pro-Northants argument falls down.
A case could probably be made for David Willey, especially in the shortest form of the game but he’s injured anyway, and not really for anyone else.
The outstanding effort at Edgbaston last August was produced, as was the case throughout the whole tournament, by the collective.
Twenty-over cricket brings every side closer together, that is the point of it, and Northants showed that if the wind is blowing in the right direction, they are more than capable of beating all-comers and the odd sparkling individual performance does not a case for elevation make.
Next time an England Test squad is selected without a Northants name present there won’t be much of an uproar so lets all simmer down a bit.
The situation may change in time, but for now those doing the choosing have got it just right.