1The Ashes urnOur England squad for the winter Ashes

The Eng­land squad for the return Ashes series is due to be announced on Monday.  Who should Eng­land take and who will miss out?

Let’s look at the “first on the team­sheet” play­ers, and then see how many places we’ve got left.

  • Bats­men: Cook, Root, Trott, Pieterson, Bell
  • Bowl­ers: Ander­son, Broad, Swann
  • Keep­er: Prior

Nine of the start­ing 11 pick them­selves.  That leaves 8 places up for grabs, which should include 1 genu­ine bats­man, 1 fast bowl­er, a back-up wick­et keep­er and a second spinner.

Possible wicket keepers

  • Jonny Bair­stow
  • Jos But­tler
  • Steve Dav­ies

Jonny Bair­stow is a fairly easy choice here as he is a genu­ine test bats­man and has more test exper­i­ence than the oth­er contenders.

Possible batsmen

  • Michael Car­berry
  • Nick Compton
  • James Taylor
  • Gary Bal­lance
  • Ravi Bopa­ra
  • Alex Lees

As I said before the home Ashes series, I would­n’t have pro­moted Joe Root so early in his career and would have con­tin­ued with Nick Compton as open­er.  Now Root is estab­lished I would­n’t demote him but Compton has what it takes to be an excel­lent test bats­man and made good scores in pre­vi­ous away series.  He also offers the option of open­ing if either Root or Cook get injured.  Car­berry misses out as he is 32 and Eng­land need to be think­ing about the future.  Bopa­ra is a good lim­ited overs bats­man but has­n’t pro­duced con­sist­ently enough at test level.  Taylor, Lees and Bal­lance are prom­ising, but I’m not sure they’re ready for the test arena yet, espe­cially not mak­ing a début in an away series in Aus­tralia in an Eng­land bat­ting line-up that isn’t in the best of form.

Possible bowlers

  • Tim Bresnan
  • Chris Trem­lett
  • Boyd Rankin
  • Steven Finn
  • Gra­ham Onions

This is prob­ably the most dif­fi­cult decision — all of these bowl­ers are excel­lent and have pro­duced the goods for Eng­land at one time or anoth­er.  Both Trem­lett and Finn did well in Aus­tralia in 2010 and both have the pace and height that is well suited to Aus­trali­an wick­ets.  Boyd Rankin also has pace and bounce and has done well for Eng­land recently.  Gra­ham Onions has­n’t played for Eng­land for a while but has had a good sea­son and offers a dif­fer­ent option.  Tim Bresnan has con­sist­ently delivered the goods for Eng­land and can do a bit with the bat as well.

Possible second spinners

  • Monty Pan­esar
  • Simon Ker­rigan
  • James Tred­well

This is a close decision between Pan­esar and Ker­rigan.  Pan­esar just about gets the nod due to his much great­er test exper­i­ence but this depends on him sort­ing out any issues off the field.  If there are still reas­ons for doubt about his off-field beha­viour then Ker­rigan gets the nod.  Tred­well misses out as Pan­esar is a bet­ter bowl­er, or if Eng­land are look­ing to the future, Ker­rigan is a lot younger.

Possible all-rounders

  • Ben Stokes
  • Chris Woakes

This is anoth­er dif­fi­cult choice, either play­er could go or be left behind.  Stokes had a good one day series, but test crick­et is very dif­fer­ent.  He also had some dis­cip­lin­ary issues on a Lions tour earli­er in the year.

First round picks

If I pick some of the play­ers lis­ted above then we can have a look at the bal­ance of the squad and use that to help select the last 2 or 3 players

Cook, Root, Trott, Pieterson, Bell, Pri­or, Broad, Bresnan, Swann, Ander­son, Bair­stow, Compton, Trem­lett, Pan­esar, Finn

This leaves me 2 play­ers to pick.  I’ve picked 8 genu­ine bats­man (includ­ing 2 wick­et keep­ers), 5 fast bowl­ers and 2 spin­ners.  We should take at least 1 more fast bowl­er and ideally an all-round­er.  On bal­ance I think Eng­land should take Stokes as a prom­ising young all-round­er and Onions as the final fast bowl­er.  Onions just edges out Rankin as he offers some­thing dif­fer­ent and has con­sid­er­ably more experience.

Final Squad

Cook, Root, Trott, Pieterson, Bell, Pri­or, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Trem­lett, Ander­son, Bair­stow, Compton, Pan­esar, Finn, Stokes, Onions

Some of the oth­er play­ers who just missed out (Woakes, Bopa­ra, Ker­rigan, Rankin) should get their chance in the lim­ited overs games to show that they deserve to be included in the squads for next sum­mer against Sri Lanka and India.

I’ve lis­ted my first choice 11 as the first 11 play­ers.  I’ve picked a 5‑man bowl­ing attack as I think Eng­land will want the height and bounce of Trem­lett and will also need 4 fast bowl­ers for the hot Aus­trali­an con­di­tions.  Eng­land like to have an a num­ber 6 bats­man but I’ve pro­moted Pri­or to 6 and made Tim Bresnan my num­ber 7 all-round­er as he offers quite a lot with the bat (his test aver­age is 30; Bair­stow aver­ages 30; Compton 32)

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gravatarJ A Scaife

Without Bresnan (fit­ness to be proved) and Onions (unjustly not selec­ted) I think they need some extra bat­ting, so if Bal­lance does any­thing before the first test I might try him at no.6. If he does­n’t look ready then Bair­stow is in the frame. The makes Pri­or, Broad and Swann nos. 7, 8 and 9 which does­n’t look shabby, with Jimmy at 10 and one of the twin towers, Finn or Trem­lett, at 11.

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