Hello welcome to today’s blog looking at something a bit different. The first ashes test starts on 1st August and England will imminently name their squad. In this piece I look at what the team for the first game might look like. First things first this is the team that played the last test match England played in February in the West Indies
First things first Jennings is out. He has had 32 test innings now but only averages 25.19 far below what you would expect from a top quality opening batsmen. Also his record so far this year in the county championship, he has scored 260 runs at 23.63. It’s just not good enough so hes not picked.
Moving onto Burns who in 12 test innings has averaged just 25 with a high score of 84. Not brilliant howerver, in the county championship this year he has averages 37 with 1 hundred and 2 fifties. I would select him for the first ashes test for some continuity, you cant keep chopping and changing.
The other opening batsman I think there are 2 options. Jason Roy and Dominic Sibley. Jason Roy looks to be the likely player they will choose but this does come with a tinge of caution. In the last year Roy has only played 2 games of first class cricket with 3 innings in total, now he did pretty well but he didn’t open. Also since his debut I can only find two innings in first class cricket in which he opened. The positive for Roy is hes in excellent form as shown by the cricket he has played in the world cup. The selection of Roy as opener is a risk due to his limited opening experience in first class cricket.
The other option Dominic Sibley who currently in the county championship has scored over 1000 runs at an average of 63.47. Therefore hes clearly in great form and one of the selection adages is always pick people when in good form. I think for now its a leave him as the next cab off the rank. If Burns has a bad start to the series he could be an option for the 4th/5th test.
Number 3 Batsman
The current holder of this spot is Joe Denly. He has only played two test matches and one match he opened and the other match he batted at number 3. Therefore in the small sample its hard to judge his test career so far. In the County Championship this year he has had 11 innings scoring 504 runs at 56. Thats really good form.
The other option at number 3 is to use Jonny Bairstow who did bat at number 3 during the winter tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies. His stats show he did ok but the big benefit of playing Bairstow at number 3 means you can use another player further down the order. We will get to that later
I think the middle order is universally agreed: Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Butler.
As far as I see it their are 2 options at number 7. If you are playing Joe Denly then Bairstow has to bat at 7 or higher if he is swapped with Stokes or Butler. Or if you decide to bat Bairstow at 3 you have a bonus spot to fill. The player I suggest would be ideal for here is Sam Curran. He had an incredible summer last summer winning man of the match award in the first test against India. He did struggle in the West Indies during the winter however his form this season has been excellent. In the county championship he has averaged 33 scoring 301 runs in 9 innings. His bowling has been the most impressive taking 24 wickets at 22.45. In a straight fight between Curran and Denly I would pick Curran. I also think Curran being only 20 is always going to improve.
Unless there are any dust bowls during the ashes I fully expect England to only player one spinner. I think there are 3 options:
Moeen Ali – The current holder of the shirt and a now veteran member of the team playing 58 tests who is useful with both bat and ball. However if world cup form is used for selection for test matches (as the case for Roy is built on) then Moeen is in really poor form. Averaging only 18 in the games he played and only getting 5 wickets. Also in test matches his form with the bat has been declining. Also bowling against Australia his record is really poor in 10 matches he has only taken 17 wickets at 65.94. I therefore think its worth looking at other options
Jack Leach – My pick for the spinner slot in this England team. So far he has had a short test career of 4 test matches with some of them in the spin friendly conditions of Sri Lanka. However his stats from that series were excellent and so far this year in the county championship he has taken 34 wickets at 21.97. Hes clearly in great form and deserves his chance to be England’s spinner in the Ashes
There are 3 spots left for fast bowlers in this team. I think its a given that Jimmy Anderson will definitely be one of them. Will this be his final series? that’s a point for discussion on another day. Of the two spots left there are probably 5 bowlers competing for them Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Olly Stone. Mark Wood can be discounted to begin with as he has a side strain and therefore will not be available in the early part of the Ashes.
Chris Woakes – his test record is really interesting. If this was away from home he wouldnt be in the equation. Caparison between his away and home recordis like night and day. At home he is really good though taking his wickets at 23.33. He is also a very handy batsman so would dd to the batting strength.
Stuart Broad – Clearly not much needs to be said about one of England’s best ever bowlers. Is there a sign of decline? maybe slightly his bowling average in the last few months has been in 28-30 range when at his peak he was operating around mid twenties mark.
Jofra Archer – I think based on his form in the world cup, the fact hes a different type of bowler then others mentioned and his first class record is excellent. In 28 matches he has taken 131 wickets at 23.44. Therefore he takes one spot next to Jimmy Anderson.
Olly Stone – Seems to be liked by the selectors however if the pace of Archer is already in the team i’m not sure hes better then Broad and Woakes. Hes not in great form so far this season in the county championship he has only taken 7 wickets at 38.57.
In the final selection out of Broad and Woakes. I’m selecting Woakes due to the extra batting and his record at home particularly Edgbaston and Lords. Therefore my team would look like below:
Let me know your thoughts. Do you disagree with my selection or maybe agree?