In a video broadcast on Al Jazeera TV today Osama bin Laden is seen mocking the English test selectors and gloating at Surrey's recent relegation.
The 20 minute film concludes with bin Laden picking his own personal all time England XI - which includes uncapped former Derbyshire seamer Alan Warner amongst other surprises.
|Osama bin Laden from his November 2006 video telling the West that there "will be trouble" after Eton Road are voted off X Factor.|
This is the first time that the CIA's Most Wanted terrorist has talked about cricket in one of his videos - although he has targeted subjects of particular interest to the British before. In a video from May 2005 he spoke of his anger at the dropping of the word 'Farm' from Emmerdale and in a short announcement in the extras section of his November 2006 message he said "there will be trouble" after boy band Eton Road had been voted off X Factor.
Security experts are divided as to when this new video was originally filmed. Although bin Laden is seen congratulating Durham on their success and openly laughing at Surrey's demise it has been suggested that he could have pre-recorded this segment having filmed all counties separately. At one stage bin Laden is seen wearing a Neil Killeen benefit year tie, which was only available as a limited edition in 2006.
In addition the Al Qaeda chief makes no mention of current cricket controversies such as the rise of Twenty20, Stanford's Millions or Jessie Ryder breaking his arm in a toilet.
In the video bin Laden calls the English test selectors "fish-brained Coco the clowns" who "smell of dog shampoo" and "know less about cricket than my mum's goat."
|Outside broadcast: bin Laden's pitch inspection at Al Qaeda's cricket HQ in Afghanistan passed the ground fit for play despite the known presence of land mines at mid off.|
After sneering at Surrey's relegation to Division 2 of the County Championship bin Laden is handed a Zimmer Frame from an accomplice off screen and proceeds to impersonate an old man shuffling around in front of the camera whilst saying "hand me the new ball Butch I want to open the bowling" to much laughter.
In the final part of the video the world's most wanted terrorist picks his best ever England XI ("from my lifetime"). He ignores the claims of recent greats such as Botham, Gower and Gooch; neither is there any room for current players Kevin Pietersen, Freddie Flintoff and Matt Prior.
The most unexpected inclusion is that of ex-Derbyshire seamer Alan Warner who played from 1982 to 1996 without coming close to gaining international honours. Bin Laden comments that "Warner's 6 for 21 against Lancashire on a flat track at Chesterfield in 1994 should have put him in the England set up straight away".
|Alan Warner confessed to having "mixed feelings" about his inclusion.|
PDCC's East Midlands correspondent Nosher McQuelland remembers Warner as a handy all-rounder but far from being test class: "he was a loyal servant for Derbyshire for over a decade but lacked the pace and consistency to make the step up. I have seen the bin Laden video and he is wrong about Warner's 6 for 21. It was 1995 not 1994 and it was at Derby not Chesterfield. In fact, it was Warner's last ever County Championship match. He was already 38 years old and apart from a game against Cambridge University the following season, that was it for him. To suggest he should have been called up is either based on ignorance or is deliberately provocative."
Bin Laden's other selections are just as controversial. As openers he picks Kim Barnett and Chris Tavare, followed by Aftab Habib, Frank Hayes, Bill Athey and David Capel ("a bit high at 6 I admit"). Wicket keeping duties are entrusted to Bruce French. In addition to Warner the rest of the bowling attack is made up of Paul Jarvis, Alan Ward and Richard Illingworth.
Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton told Commons today "Frankly, it's a pretty uneducated selection and is clearly designed to insult the British people. We have checked the various test averages for those players and can see no justification for their inclusion. It's pretty clear that whatever happens in our ongoing war on terrorism there will never be a place for Osama bin Laden in English cricket."