Your England cricket team has just been dismissed for a total exactly equal to my age.

Most commentators have treated this event as a national calamity. Personally, I find it immensely heartening. England's performance has brought Test match cricket within the compass of players like me.

Twenty years ago I founded a cricket team because it was the only way I could get a bowl. I still play for them. In fact, I'm President for Life of the London Erratic Cricket Club. I have been sponsored by a famous batmaker to use another batmaker's products, and for some years my fielding has been more akin to sightseeing than participation.

Now, in the twilight of a mediocre career, I can seriously imagine myself in an England sweater.

Jabbing forward, late and crooked, stumps flying . . . yes, I do that too. No footwork, trapped helplessly lbw on the crease . . . you and me both, brother. Bat held limply away from the body to offer the catch behind the stumps . . . I'm your man for that.

Bowling half volleys and long-hops, fending off slip catches, reacting too late in the field . . . I've been doing all these things for years.

I can now believe that people will pay me money to do them for my country overseas.

So why don't you and the boys come home and we can play the last two Tests with a side of players like me? For all its problems, your side is the hope of England's future. You all must be feeling gutted and gobsmacked. Why destroy morale completely with four more innings against Curtly Ambrose?

I would not mind facing him at all. I have played many bowlers far slower than Ambrose from the direction of square leg.

I would be happy to raise a replacement touring party to the West Indies from weekend cricketers whose best days, such as they were, are far behind them.

But would not the hosts object to a touring party of duds and no-hopers? I think not. I am sure that the West Indian crowds will be happy to watch batsmen ducking and diving (and dismissed) and bowlers being thrashed - so long as they are labelled England. We duffers would be gracious losers in defeat. We have had plenty of practice.

And what about the television audience? Will viewers want to see people being humiliated and making fools of themselves? Well, people watch You've Been Framed.

Your team has given its best. You all deserve a break (and some easy runs against New Zealand). My squad will be ready to fly out and relieve you at a moment's notice.

With best wishes,

(Photograph omitted)

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