With the Ashes squad to be announced soon, we write about who we think should be on the plane to Australia. Trevor Bayliss has come out and said that only players who have featured in the last 18 months for England will be considered for the touring party. This squad that we have picked, is, however, obviously going against that. The squad selected is, who we think, should’ve been considered for Test selection throughout the English summer.
Alastair Cook: Self explanatory, along with Root he is a seemingly rare stable top-order influence, and has performed in Australia before. He will be able to offer valuable experience down under, as well as a load of runs.
Mark Stoneman: The Surrey opener has had a tough time of it so far in Test cricket, but looks the most comfortable of Cook’s post-Strauss partners. Picked on the basis of consistency, hopefully he can get some scores in the Ashes and finish the County Championship season well. A couple of bad games, however, would probably see him dropped from the side.
Jonny Bairstow: Consistent run scorer and one of England’s top performers, Bairstow should be put up the order. He has experience in ODI’s high up and can hopefully transfer that form into the Test arena. Due to the extreme fragility of England’s top 5 in recent times, promoting a proven Test and ODI player could be a solution to the problems England have faced. A 97 ball 100 opening against the West Indies in the current ODI series is testament to that.
Joe Root (c): Best batsman in the world, and captain. Averages 53.76 in 60 tests. England are lucky to have him, as without him the last summer would’ve been a completely different story considering the top-order issues that have been made less serious thanks to his constant stream of runs.
Alex Hales: England’s ODI opener has been hitting big runs since he moved down to number 5 for Nottinghamshire, and with plenty of international experience he won’t be out of his depth as he aims to become the first Englishman to achieve the feat of scoring a ton in all 3 international formats. His decision to move himself down to number 5 for Notts shows an added maturity to his game as well, which bodes well down under. He also has test experience, and even though he averages only 27.28 in 11 Tests, he gets the nod as the XI selected already has a certain fragility to the batting line up and a debutant at 7.
Ben Stokes: Very important player for England, as he proved at Lords to beat the West Indies in what could’ve been a very nervy Test match for England. Key with the bat, ball, and in the field.
Ben Foakes (wk): The best keeper in the world according to Alec Stewart. Coming from a man with 133 test caps, that is good enough to persuade us, and with Bairstow being promoted up to number 3, Foakes comes in at 7 and takes the gloves to allow the Yorkshireman to focus on his batting. Keeping aside, he has scored 602 runs in 16 innings at 46.30 in Division 1 this term. He would’ve almost certainly scored a lot more runs had it not been for the fantastic form of Kumar Sangakkara and Mark Stoneman at the Oval.
Moeen Ali: First choice spin option, and too good to be batting at number 8 just proves the depth England have. A cult hero nowadays, Moeen takes wickets and scores runs a plenty for England at the moment, making him a genuine all-rounder and un-droppable at present.
Toby Roland-Jones: Tough choice between TRJ and Crhis Woakes, but based on this Summer’s performances TRJ gets the call up. Yes, Woakes has been injured but TRJ has picked up 17 wickets in 4 test matches at just 19.64 which is enough for him to start the first test in our eyes.
Stuart Broad: Capable of providing game and series changing spells of bowling, him and Anderson have established themselves as two of England’s best ever seam bowlers. Broad will be hoping to win another Ashes series down under with Anderson by his side.
James Anderson: Super Jimmy. Passed 500 Test match wickets this year, securing himself as one of the all time greats. He averages nearly 10 runs/wicket more outside of England though, and will be desperate to improve those numbers this Winter. Alongside Cook, Root, and Stokes, he is key to England’s success.
Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns will serve as back up to the top three should a re-shuffle be needed. Hameed proved himself in India in his debut series which was rudely interrupted by injury, and despite not being in the best of nick this summer, he enjoys a battle, proven by some gritty, but slow, Division 1 innings. Even if he doesn’t feature in this series then being in and around the squad will serve as good experience for future series where he is highly likely to feature in a major capacity. Burns has been in fine form for Surrey in Division 1 this year, scoring 938 runs at 55.17, and has been a consistent performer on the county scene for the last few years. Again, like Foakes, chances are that he would’ve scored plenty more runs if it weren’t for Sangakkara and Stoneman.
The middle order reserve is Sam Northeast. The Kent skipper has been scoring runs for fun in Division 2, and should be rewarded with a spot in the squad at the very least, 1,011 runs at 56.16 this year is proof of that, and he has matured as a batsman in recent years. He can cope with pressure very well, as Kent often rely on him for important runs. With Stokes and Ali capable of batting anywhere really below 5, there is a certain amount of legroom available when considering what the order should look like should Northeast come in, or even if he comes in at all.
Bowling-wise, Jamie Porter deserves to be involved in some capacity due to his fine from this season for Essex, who he helped to their first County Championship for 25 years. He has claimed 68 scalps so far this season at a paltry 17.58. He averages a wicket every 32 balls (5.2 overs) and has appeared for the England Lions before so will be used to being in and around the England set-up. Chris Woakes will obviously be on the plane and will be considered ahead of Porter. The Warwickshire all-rounder is not in our starting XI due to TRJ’s form this summer. Woakes could force his way into the side though, if he performs as well as we know he can in the ODI series against the West Indies. Lastly, the spin reserves, we think, should be Jack Leach and Adil Rashid. Leach has starred for Somerset for the last 2 years, claiming 107 wickets at 23.92, and Rashid has been hard done by this summer after picking up 23 wickets in India over the previous Winter. Seeing that Moeen is good enough to be in the team, maybe, as a pure batsman, should England want a second spin option then these 2 both turn the ball in the opposite direction to Ali, and have both been in fine from this domestic season. With their already being four seamers in the starting XI, and two in reserve, we feel that there is enough seam options in the squad to allow for there to be three spinners in the party.
Starting XI for the first test:
Joe Root (c)
Ben Foakes (wk)