By Andy Hyslop
- 13 man squad named
- Adil Rashid could make his test debut
- Steven Finn included in a test squad for the time since last summer
London, UK – England have named a 13 man squad for the first Ashes test in Cardiff, with a mix of experience.
We are just one week away from the start of the first Ashes test in Cardiff, so the countdown can now begin properly. England have returned from their pre-Ashes training camp, and named their squad for the first test. Despite having won the last three Ashes series on home soil, England are going into this series as underdogs on the back of their 5-0 defeat in the last Ashes series.
England won the previous home Ashes series 3-0, despite never really playing to the best of their ability. Australia had just appointed a new coach Darren Lehmann prior to the series, while England had a settled environment of coach Andy Flower.
England go into this series with a mix of Ashes experiences good and bad, with several of the squad have only played the odd Ashes Test or playing in their first full Ashes series. So let’s take a look at the Ashes records of the players in the squad for the first test.
Alastair Cook (captain)
Cook has experienced the highs of winning the last two home series, and was part of the first England team to win in Australia in their winter tour of 2010/11. He has also experienced the lows of an Ashes series, being part of two England touring parties to Australia that have lost 5-0. Cook has score 1,787 runs in 46 innings against Australia, hitting four centuries and nine half-centuries.
Ali is yet to experience the Ashes, having made his debut in test cricket last summer against Sri Lanka,. Originally seen as a batsman who can bowl, Ali is primarily in the England squad as a bowler having impressed last summer, especially against India.
Like Cook, Anderson has experienced the high and lows of an Ashes series, having come into the England side at a similar time. Anderson is England’s record wicket taker in test cricket, surpassing Sir Ian Botham’s record of 383 wickets and becoming the first Englishman to reach 400 test wickets in the second test against New Zealand earlier this summer. In his 23 matches against Australia, Anderson has taken 77 wickets at an average of just under 37 runs per wicket.
Ballance has only played one previous test match against Australia, coming into the side in the fifth test, with England already 4-0 down and the Ashes already gone. He could not stop England from losing the game and the series 5-0, as he only managed 25 runs in his two innings. His form since his debut has been impressive, scoring 1,096 runs in 13 games, hitting four centuries and five half centuries, making him the third youngest English player to pass 1,000 test runs.
Bell is playing in his sixth consecutive Ashes series, the first of which came in the famous 2005 series in England. He did not have much of an impact in that series but was part of the winning team, and has never experienced losing a series at home to Australia. In the last home series against the Aussies in the summer of 2013, Bell was top run-scorer and was awarded player of the series. Bell has played 28 Ashes test matches, making him the most experienced Ashes player in this series. In those 28 test matches, Bell has scored 1,768 runs, hitting four centuries and 15 half centuries.
Broad will be playing in his fifth Ashes series and his third at home. His only defeat came in the 5-0 loss in Australia in 2013/14. Before that Broad had only good experiences against the Aussies. His first Ashes test came in 2009, at the same venue as this match. In his 17 matches against Australia in test cricket, he has taken 63 wickets at an average of just under 30 runs per wicket.
Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper)
Buttler has been an ever-present in England’s one-day and 20/20 team for a few years, but he has had to wait for his test debut, due to the presence of Matt Prior. Buttler got his debut last summer against India, when Prior took a break through injury which would eventually seen him retire. In his eight test matches so far, Buttler has a top-score of 85 and has passed the 50 mark on five occasions.
Finn has not played a test match since the previous Ashes home series in July 2013, and has not been in the test squad since England’s series against India last summer. Finn has struggled with his run up and action over the last few years. He burst onto the international scene in 2010 aged 20, as a bowler with real pace and since then has played 23 test matches, taking 90 wickets.
Lyth was finally given his chance to open the batting alongside Cook this summer, after several impressive seasons for Yorkshire. He made his debut against New Zealand this summer and scored a century in the second test at his home ground Headingley.
Rashid is the only player in the squad yet to play a test match. He will probably only make his debut in the first test if England opt to play two spinners, with Ali seen as first choice spinner at the moment. Rashid has played 134 first class matches, taking 392 wickets at an average of just under 35 runs per wicket.
Root is the fourth Yorkshireman in the squad. His first Ashes series came in the 2013 home series, Root struck 180 in the second innings of the second test in that series as England piled on the runs. Root didn’t have the best of times in the away Ashes series that immediately followed the 2013 home series. He was dropped for the fifth test in Australia and he forced his way back into the team for the home series against Sri Lanka the following summer. Root is seen as one of England’s best batsman and a future England captain.
Stokes made his test and Ashes debut in the second test in Australia, in England’s tour of 2013/14, Stokes was one of the few bright spots in that series, as he scored his first test century in the third test of that series in only his second test match. Stokes also took 15 wickets in that series. This summer against New Zealand, Stokes scored the fastest test century at Lords. Could Stokes be the all-rounder England have been searching for?
Wood is another player who has no experience of playing against Australia. He was selected for the tour of West Indies in the winter after impressing for Durham. He had to wait until the first test against New Zealand for his test debut, picking up nine wickets in the two test matches against New Zealand. Wood is someone who bowls with real pace despite only having a short run-up, generating all his speed from his upper-body strength.
The England selectors will have some choices to make, depending on the pitch. The only other decision would whether Finn does enough in training to convince the selectors that he deserves to start this test match.
All will be revealed when the teams are announced on the morning of July 8th at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff.