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'Dear 677': What England's next Test player might think about the baffling letter Joe Root’s team wrote him

It’s been a big week for English cricket. First, the ECB officially started work– to the sound of lingering county grumbles – on the controversial new T20 franchise tournament due to start in 2020. Then, Ben Stokes, clearly egged on by BCCI bosses terrified at the prospect of this exotic new rival English competition, revitalised the flagging IPL with a century so devastating it made Anthony Joshua’s uppercut look like a tickle. Then, to top it all off, the new England team kits were announced at a ceremony so trendy and minimalist that the journalists in attendance were served fish and chip. Yes, literally, just the one chip.

File photo of the newly-elected England Test captain Joe Root. Reuters

File photo of the newly-elected England Test captain Joe Root. Reuters

But back to the kits, which received rather mixed reviews. While many fans welcomed the return of the classic cable knit sweater for Tests, the accompanying shirt seems rather tight around the chest with a collar so small it looks like a protest against the 1970s. The T20 top is tight just about everywhere, and furthermore has hoops, making it a treat for any in shape Celtic or QPR fans, who follow the England team in the shortest format, but a bit of an eyesore for everyone else. The stripes were, at least, not in Solar Red.

The same day as this glitzy ceremony, the England team also revealed a signed letter they’d penned to their nation’s next potential Test player. It started "Dear 677" (the cap number the recipient will wear) and it all went downhill from there. The management speak was, in fact, so ridiculous you suspected England had taken the Celtic connection to the next level by asking the club’s famous 'David Brentish' manager, Brendan Rodgers, to write it for them. The baffling letter is reproduced line-by-line and unaltered below. In between the lines is what Cap 677, if he hasn’t already been put off playing international cricket, might think while reading it:

The baffling letter is reproduced line-by-line and unaltered below. In between the lines is what Cap 677, if he hasn’t already been put off playing international cricket, 'might think' while reading it:

England team: Dear 677.

677: “677” seems a bit formal. Could you at least make me one of the gang -  Cooky, Broady, Rooty etc - by calling me “677-y”.

England team: Whoever you might be.

677: I know I’m just a number to you. No need to rub it in.

England team: This is England.

677: That’s a relief. Would have been a terrible mix-up if I’d been picked for Pakistan.

England team: The home of cricket.

677: Well, India might argue these days but go on.

England team: Forget what you’ve done before.

677: Seems a bit silly. Took me ages to work out how to play the short ball.

England team: None of it matters.

677: Now you’re telling me my First Class average is irrelevant. It’s actually very good.

England team: We’ve taken wickets. Scored runs. Held catches.

677: Well, you are an international cricket team. Would be weird if you hadn’t, to be honest.

England team: You’re on the first step of a neverending flight of stairs to success.

677: Sorry to be pedantic, but if it’s neverending doesn’t that mean I’ll never actually reach success?

England team: So start climbing.

677: Why would anyone start climbing a neverending staircase?

England team: Do that and you’ll be one of us.

677: So none of us is ever going to reach success. Bit worrying with a resurgent South Africa coming for a Test series at the end of June.

England team: We’ll teach you. Protect you. Guide and welcome you.

677: Well, it’s good you’ll teach me, what with me forgetting everything I learnt before.

England team: But what we can’t do is carry you.

677: Well, I wouldn’t expect you to if the stairs are neverending. You’ll all be exhausted.

England team: So hear this.

677: Listening.

England team: Outrun us, out bowl us, out work us.

677: I bowl part-time off-spin. I’m probably not going to out bowl Jimmy in fairness, even on a bunsen on the subcontinent.

England team: Take our place in the team.

677: Very decent of you.

England team: Because if you do that, we’ll win it all.

677: Well, you won’t personally if I’ve taken your place in the team. Just saying.

England team: One day internationals.

677: My strike rate in List A is 71.34.

England team: Twenty-twenty.

677: Again, I’ve played a few games in the Natwest Blast but I got jeered a bit. 

England team: Tests.

677: That’s more my thing, sure. But winning all Tests sounds a bit ambitious. Not being rude, but you lost eight in one year in 2016.

England team: Being the best in the country’s one thing.

677: I’m currently ninth in the county averages, truth be told.

England team: Being the best in the world is another.

677: Well, that makes sense. You play against different teams in Tests to the County Championship.

England team: Because one thing for sure...

677: People always forget apostrophes?

England team: ...greatness isn’t given.

677: All that just to shoehorn in the new marketing slogan? Well, can’t wait to meet you guys at Lord’s for the First Test. You sound a lot of fun.

Updated Date: May 04, 2017 09:42 AM

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