It nearly that time again, the time when England and Australia cricket fans bore everyone of their friends about cricket until only those who are kind enough to fain interest remain. I am of course talking about the Ashes. For me watching the England 2005 victory in the Ashes was what really sparked my interest in the game, there’s something special about the series and this year I’ve decided to do a preview prior to the squad announcement. I’m gonna go through the whole England team and try and predict who will win a spot in the most famous contest in cricket.
As captain Alistair Cook is nailed on to play every single game barring any injury problems, not that that’s the only reason he’s playing. He’s now has the most hundreds of any England batsman ever, averages just under 50 and is only 28, safe to say he is one of the best batsman England have ever had.
The question becomes who partners him to face the new ball? Nick Compton is the man who had the honour in the recent tests against New Zealand and he had two impressive back to back hundreds in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately for him he’s had a poor home series and with the emergence of Joe Root my opinion is Compton’s been unlucky. Joe Root is the man named for the warm up matches ahead of Compton and the noises from the England camp seem to suggest he’s their man. That to me is fantastic as Root has never looked overawed by the occasion (as Compton has at times). He is a reliable batsman, excellent fielder and can also turn his arm over which is always handy.
Since I don’t see England changing their four bowler approach, the middle order we’re going to look at is from 3-6. In at number three I can’t see past Jonathan Trott. He’s no stranger to the Ashes, making his debut in the 2009 Ashes decider at the Oval and averaging over 50 for England he’s been an ever present.
Ian Bell has been occupying the number four spot in recent games after the injury to Kevin Pietersen. Pietersen is fit now and judging from his recent unbeaten 177 for Surrey against Yorkshire he is on form as well (he even seems to have added a ramp shot to his armoury because he obviously wasn’t audacious enough). Pietersen is England’s world beater, he’s the flair player who has the ability to win games single handedly. Not much doubt he’ll take the number 4 spot in my opinion.
Bell is going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment so his place could be under threat from some of the very talented batsman England have in the wings. It would be a shock if England were to drop him for the Ashes, he is still one of England’s most experienced and technically gifted batsman especially against spin (although Australia aren’t exactly threatening in that department). Given England’s record of sticking by people in lean times the most likely thing is Bell will move down to five and make way for Pietersen.
Number six is where it gets interesting, since that was where Root has been batting for England and if he’s promoted up the order the spot is open. England may do a straight swap with Root and Compton, take the pressure away from Compton and allow him to progress down the order. Compton would also be very useful for facing the second new ball, especially if England are going to build big commanding totals against the Aussies.
Another candidate is Jonny Bairstow who is beginning to find his feet as a Test player and partnered Root very nicely against the Kiwi’s at Headingley. Bairstow is very much a player who looks to up the tempo and take the attack to the opposition which can be very effective against tiring bowlers. Personally I would like to see Ravi Bopara given another chance to prove himself in the Test arena. He had a very good Champions Trophy with both Bat and Ball and does give England the fifth bowler option they’ve been lacking since Paul Collingwood retired (not that they’ve really needed it).
Who do you think should bat for England? Let us know in the comments section and keep a look out for the second edition of our Ashes preview as we discuss Wicketkeepers and Bowlers.