By Peter Moore and Kieran Wellington
- Britwatch’s Cricket writers discuss their XI for the first Ashes Test against Australia at Edgbaston on Thursday
- Joe Denly could bat at number three, with skipper Joe Root set to make difficult call
- Will James Anderson and Stuart Broad again be the bane of the the Aussies, after England’s World Cup success?
EDGBASTON, BIRMINGHAM – Ahead of the start of the 2019 Ashes on Thursday, who have Britwatch’s Cricket writers selected in their XI to face the tourists at Edgbaston?
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Ashes burn once more
Just over a fortnight after England dramatically won their first Cricket World Cup at Lords in mid-July, the – for some – main course of the summer is set to commence, as England and Australia battle for the Ashes once more.
Ahead of the first test beginning on Thursday, Britwatch Sport’s Cricket Writers Peter Moore and Kieran Wellington, got their heads to together to discuss their respective XIs they would select to face the tourists, to open the series in Birmingham.
With the Australia holding the famous urn in their possession, Tim Paine‘s side however have not won an away series against England since 2001, making the opening duel ever the more vital at a venue where the Baggy Greens have struggled in the past.
Here are the team’s XI to face Australia.
Rory Burns – Made his test debut for England last year on the tour to Sri Lanka, on the back of his weight of runs for Surrey in the County Championship. Still has yet to convince the cricketing world that he is the right person to open after one main score of 84 in two test series against Sri Lanka and West Indies. Averaging 38 for Surrey this season. However, despite all doubters, I would still pick him to open, even after a poor test match against Ireland.
Jason Roy – A certainty to open for England at Edgbaston. Made his test debut against Ireland and failed to impress in the first innings, but soon made up for this with a 72 at Lords. Such a success in white ball cricket but has only played just two-first class matches for Surrey last season and has opened only a handful of times. Has the temperament to make it at Test level, but this Ashes series will be a massive test for the likeable man from Surrey. Opening partnerships for England has always been a problem, but with the two Surrey guys out in the middle, hopefully they will give England a platform to build on.
Joe Denly – Good to see he has been given the nod for the troublesome number three position. Averaging over 50 for Kent in the championship this season, with a highest score of 167 not out. At 33 this must be his last chance of ever playing in an Ashes series. Looked comfortable at the crease against Ireland in the first innings. Also, can be used as a bowling option for England.
Joe Root – Only debate is whether he should bat at 3 or 4. Personally, I would love to see him bat at three, but can understand his reasoning for preferring to bat at number four. Had a successful 2015 Ashes with a fluent 134 against the Aussies at Cardiff. Also hit 130 at Trent Bridge to help England to regain the Ashes. Two years later it was a different story as Root found it difficult to convert fifties into hundreds. Still England’s most consistent batsman in all forms of the game.
Jonny Bairstow (WK) – England’s number one gloveman in red ball cricket. Always a reliable player who can come in on any situation and steer England to a reasonable total. Handles pressure so well. Admittedly, his 2017 Ashes series turned out to be a disappointment, despite 119 at Perth. Kept tidily behind the stumps in the recent one-off test against Ireland.
Ben Stokes – Will certainly be up for the Ashes campaign. Selected for the 2013 Ashes series where he scored his maiden test century at the WACA. Certain to revel in the forthcoming Ashes. Another reliable player to be called on with either bat or ball.
Jack Leach – Played himself into contention after a very encouraging performance against Ireland. Only required to bowl a handful of overs at Lords, due to the pitch. Has taken regular number of wickets for Somerset, and really should off been given the chance as the number one spinner for England. At Edgbaston, it is a wicket that will predominantly favour seam, but a sole spinner is always needed. Should have been picked ahead of Moeen Ali, who clearly has under performed of late, due to having no confidence. Leach can also be thrown into the role of night-watchman, as was proved by his patient innings of 92 against Ireland. Very unlucky to miss out on selection.
Chris Woakes – Turning in to an outstanding player for England on the back of some excellent performances for England in the recent World Cup. Playing on his home track will see the best of this talented all-rounder. A shoo-in for any England line up. Will always give more than one hundred per cent every time he puts on an England shirt. Produced a stunning spell of opening bowling to wreak havoc against Ireland at Lords.
Jofra Archer – Passed fit, the Sussex paceman will make his Ashes debut at Edgbaston. Has been suffering with a side strain and was a huge doubt for the opening test. Was named in Sussex’s Vitality Blast side to face Surrey at Hove on Friday. Had an outstanding World Cup and is a bowler who will ask questions of Australian batsman. Immense talent and will be a player that the Aussies will fear.
Sam Curran – A toss up between the inexperienced Curran or veteran Stuart Broad. Yes, Broad has much more Ashes experience, but Curran I feel will get the nod in the starting eleven. The Surrey seamer is already beginning to turn himself in to a fine all-rounder. When given the ball has never let the hosts down, and on many an occasions has saved England with the bat after the now customary top and middle order collapses.
Jimmy Anderson – How can you not include him? A must for any test match. Has been doubts recently about his fitness- having missed out on the recent test match against Ireland. What you will get with England’s most experienced player is constant consistency. Outstanding 2017-18 series, picking up 17 wickets at an average of 27. Has also been an integral part of three victorious Ashes campaigns. Time for a fourth perhaps.
– For the sake of this, I am picking outside of England’s 14-man squad for the first Test at Edgbaston, which includes Denly and Moeen Ali, who simply aren’t in good enough touch to get anywhere near an Ashes XI –
Rory Burns – Picked in the knowledge that he should bat well with teammate and lifelong friend Jason Roy. A solid opening partnership is so important, as proven by Ashes greats Cook and Strauss, Hayden and Langer, and one-day record-breakers Roy and Bairstow. Burns, despite his ugly, unorthodox technique, deserves a run at the top.
Jason Roy – A man who has only just made his Test debut against Ireland and made just five in his first ever Test innings reveals a lot about where England are with their batting right now. But teammate Ben Stokes has said Roy is in the form of his life, snd even if that’s in a totally different format where his role is drastically different, his aggression will be important.
Joe Root – Coach Trevor Bayliss has finally convinced captain Root to bat at three, despite Root publicly declaring he prefers batting at no.4: his record underlines this. But with England keenly aware of their brittle top order, Root needs to burden the responsibility. Let’s not forget, Root made a sensational 180 in the 2013 Ashes opening the batting, becoming the youngest Ashes centurion for England at Lord’s in the process.
Jonny Bairstow – If Root is batting at three, it must mean Joe Denly misses out. Therefore, Bairstow also has to front up and bat higher than he may want, and also his technique may allow. Bairstow is averaging just 24.42 in Tests since the start of last summer, but form is temporary. Class is permanent, as the Yorkshireman proved emphatically in the must-win group games vs India and New Zealand in the World Cup, where he became the first England batsman to score consecutive World Cup centuries. Bayliss will be hoping this big-game attitude can transfer across to The Ashes.
Ben Stokes – The most talented all-rounder in English history (and that’s saying a lot), England and Stokes have always seen the reappointed vice-captain as a batter first. Therefore, he must bat in the top five. With England’s bowling depth getting stronger by the selection, Stokes must play the sort of responsible innings that were in evidence throughout the World Cup. England fans must forget about the exciting, mercurial Stokes. This is a more refined, mature Stokes, at the certain benefit of the Test side.
Jos Buttler (WK) – This won’t happen, but I want Buttler at 6 and with the gloves, purely because of Bairstow’s poor form in Tests. It will allow Bairstow to have a sole focus for this crucial series, and give Buttler an active role in the Test team that will give him the perfect rehearsal for when he inevitably succeeds Eoin Morgan as one-day captain. He is such a big figure in the dressing room, he has to be squeezed in to any England side.
Chris Woakes – The same position Woakes has batted in white-ball cricket in recent times with the exclusion of Ali, it may be a position too high in Tests. However, Woakes has more Test centuries than Roy, Burns and Denly combined, so England’s batting will always look light. At his home ground, he is sure to make an impression.
Sam Curran – Man of the Series batting here against India last summer, the left-arm swing bowler has all the credentials to be an England player for the next decade. He offers variety to the attack and crucial lower order runs, as proven in that India series and, in brief glimpses, against Ireland. He is the current incumbent, so expect him to play against Australia.
Stuart Broad – Broad starts a fairly long tail (if you take Leach’s 92 as a complete one-off), but how can you not pick England’s second best Test bowler ever, and the world’s seventh most prolific of all time? His hot streaks, including that unbelievable 8-15 against the Aussies at Trent Bridge, make him hard to drop.
Jack Leach – Batting above Jimmy Anderson for his 92 at Lord’s, Leach is, for my money, the best English spinner at the moment. Underrated and nuggety in a similar regard to Nathan Lyon, he is hard to get away and much like Ashley Giles did for the class of 2005, can hold up an end and take some crucial wickets while the England quicks can bowl in short, sharp spells.
Jimmy Anderson – If fit, he is the first name on the team sheet behind Root and Stokes. The best bowler ever to have worn the England badge, and will lead the attack with great authority as usual.
England face Australia in the first Ashes test at Edgbaston, Birmingham, beginning on Thursday at 11am UK time.
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