On the 7th of January 2011, a victorious England team left the field of the Sydney Cricket Ground after completing an innings victory and winning the Ashes 3-1 in Australia. A journey that started at the Brisbane Cricket Ground in Woolloogabba two months earlier, finished with Andrew Strauss’ crowning moment as England captain. On July the 10th 2013, Alastair Cook will lead an England side out at the less extravagantly named Trent Bridge, in Nottingham. But how different will Captain Cook’s Ashes squad look compared to Super Straussy’s?
England could walk out at Trent Bridge carrying 9 of the players that won the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time in 24 years, as Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood are the only members that have retired. Also the players that played on that tour (Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Prior, Broad, Swann, Anderson and Finn) still deserve to be in the squad. Showing how Strauss’ era introduced the youth well into the international scene. So the only gaps to fill are the openers spot and the number 6 position that has been the last name on the team-sheet since Collingwood’s retirement after that Ashes tour.
The Openers spot seems fairly easy to choose. With Compton’s stats in the County Championship and a family name that frightens even the brutish bowlers, he seems England’s first choice. The cool, calm and collected South-African born is set to make half of the most elegant opening partnership’s in test history with ex-choirboy Captain Cook. Joe Root looks more likely to fight for the vacant No.6 spot but he will want to open the batting in the future. Maybe when Compton moves on lad. Micheal Carberry’s return to form last season shows a late surge and if he continue’s early next season then injuries may lead to his selection. It is Varun Chopra, who has passed 1,000 runs each of the last two seasons since joining Warickshire, and Alex Hales that will travel to Australia with the Lions squad and the same applies too this pair. Hales’ selection in the twenty20 squad will put him on Andy Flower’s radar, but he will have to prove he can stick out a long innings in the County Championship before he gets a look in.
The No.6 spot was fought for in the summer by James Taylor and Jonny Bairstow. However, it is Joe Root that seems to have made the biggest impression on the selectors, with a good Lions tour earning him a call up to the last test in India where he performed admirably. The selection team have put faith in the Young Player of the Year and pull him from the Lions captaincy to fight with Jonny Bairstow for a spot in the New Zealand matches. This may give Taylor the opportunity to build form in Australia, which he will hope to continue into the County Season with Nottinghamshire where he struggled last year. It is not clear who holds this spot, and I doubt it will be right up until the first test.
Tim Bresnan will look to regain his form from before his elbow operation, since when he has averaged over 50 with the ball in Test match cricket. Steven Finn and Broad will have to prove they ares still worthy of a place while Bresnan, Graham Onions and Chris Woakes knock on the door behind them. Stuart Meaker may be a surprise option if he can continue bowling with his immense pace and turn potential into wickets.
Outside bets on Monty Panesar ousting the aging Swann due to form and youngster Shiv Thakor, who recently left the U19’s tour with a broken finger, knocking on England’s door so hard that they can’t not give him a chance. What would be the odds on Kevin Pietersen enjoying the riches from the IPL so much that he never returns and applies for Indian citizenship? I’m not a betting lad but I’m sure you could get good odds for that!
My picks would be Compton to open with Cook and Joe Root to bat at 6. But it is nice to know England have such youth and depth going into an Ashes year where Australia are weak with both areas. Rumour is veteran Brad Hodge (38), who played his last Test in 2008, is looking to capitalize on the retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey and gain a place for the Ashes series. But that’s a whole different blog post…
I would love to hear your opinions on this subject so please comment in the box below…