Here we go again, it’s time for another Ashes Preview. This time around we’re looking at Wicketkeepers and Bowlers, if you missed out Batsman preview then where were you! Click to have a look.
Not a lot of debate around the Wicketkeeper spot, after a rocky start to his England career Matt Prior is now an ever present in the team. His talent as a Batsman has never been in doubt and he wouldn’t look out of place in the top order of virtually any team in world cricket. His Keeping is vastly improved since the criticism he received in the early days and he is a very reliable glove man.
As ever though injuries do happen and if the worst did happen Jos Buttler would be an excellent understudy to Prior. He kept in the Champions Trophy and I don’t remember him making a mistake with the gloves. He is also an explosive batsman who loves to play the ramp shot to devastating effect early on in his innings. He’s young with a lot to learn but would be a suitable replacement if Prior were incapable for any reason.
Graeme Swann is still one of if not the best Spin Bowlers in the world, his record speaks for itself. However as we’ve seen in the Champions Trophy he has started to succumb to injuries and at the age of 34 England need to start considering life after Swann. Hopefully this won’t be for a few years yet but do we have anyone waiting to take over?
James Tredwell substituted for Swann in the Champions Trophy and did and excellent job. He has an advantage over Monty Panasar, who has been on the fringes of the test side, as he is a decent fielder and batsman. Panasar is unfortunately lacking in those areas and in modern test cricket you can’t afford to have any passengers in your side. I’d back Tredwell to be Swanns deputy if needed in the Test side because of his all round play not just bowling.
The success England’s Seam attack in the last few years is a large part of the reason they have climbed up the Test rankings. James Anderson is the best swing bowler in the world so his place is not in doubt and given Stuart Broad’s performance against New Zealand neither is his place.
The third seamer position is interesting, mainly because of the wealth of talent England have waiting in the wings. Steven Finn has been bowling ok of late and his pace and height offer England something different to Anderson and Broad. His issue is experience, will England be willing to put someone in who is still developing his technique? He has had trouble with his knee hitting the stumps as he runs up to bowl and still occasionally falls over in his follow through. England may opt for someone who is less threatening but more consistent.
Chris Tremlett was Finns predecessor as the third seamer and was replaced due to injury. By all accounts he has been bowling well for Surrey but has slipped down the pecking order in recent time. Tim Bresnan could be a good prospect, he had a decent Champions Trophy and is a handy batsman lower down the order. Graham Onions is someone who has been around the England set up for a while and is a tidy wicket to wicket bowler. Finn is probably favourite to keep his place but if he slips up there are a number of very capable bowlers waiting to step in.
So who makes the final 11 for England then:
The Ashes does attract drama, it’s a uniquely pressured situation where it feels like anything could happen and normally does. Every now and again the selectors pull a player out of no where and throw them into the spot light, Jonathan Trott made his debut in an Ashes decider and never looked back. All it takes is an injury and dip in form and an opportunity arises. So who could be in line for moving from ‘he’s a decent player’ to England hero.
Opener: Michael Carberry. Aggressive opening batsman with a great record in the shorter form of the game. He has played one Test match before but never set the world alight, his techniques isn’t the best but he has a good temperament and lots of experience.
Middle Order: James Taylor. Only 23 and already has two Tests to his name, although his highest score was 34. Been in decent form for Notts so could be a shout.
Wicketkeeper: Craig Kieswetter. Dropped from the T20 and ODI squads due to poor form after a bright start to his career. Long shot for a Test call but stranger things have happened.
Spinner: Adil Rashid. As soon as a decent Leg Spinner comes along everyone gets excited thinking we’ve got the next Shane Warne. Rashid suffered under expectation he’s never lived up too, but like Graeme Swann who came to England late in his career I can see Rashid progressing to similar effect.
Seamer: Stuart Meaker. Quick aggressive bowler who is only getting quicker. He’s played a handful of ODI and T20 games but could be pushing for a Test birth soon if his county cricket form continues.