England vs. Australia: Players Looking to Secure Ashes Tour Places

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England vs. Australia: Players Looking to Secure Ashes Tour Places
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England will continue their summer-long battle with Australia in the coming days, looking to turn around their 1-0 one-day international series deficit with three fixtures remaining.

Defeat by 88 runs on Sunday, per BBC Sport, will have given the tourists a confidence boost after their travails earlier this summer, but England will be keen to ensure that they head into the return series in positive spirits.

With the likes of Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad rested, there are some unfamiliar faces within the England ranks who are playing for their place on the plane to Australia in November.

Some of those in line for a call-up—namely Eoin Morgan and Boyd Rankin—made a positive start to the series, despite defeat, and other England players will know they must do better if they are to earn an Ashes place.

Which players, then, could realistically be heading to Australia as part of the Test squad?

 

Michael Carberry

Hampshire opening batsman Michael Carberry will be disappointed to have scored a combined total of 14 runs in his two innings in the past week, per ESPNCricinfo, but he has the talent to produce big scores in the remaining fixtures.

When batting well, Carberry scores quickly at the top of the order and, as his average of 47 in 40-over competition at county level shows, he does so on a regular basis.

Former England international Alec Stewart has tipped Carberry as a candidate for England's final batting place this winter, per BBC Sport, but he must earn a position with a big score in the coming days.

Carberry's ability to open the batting makes him an attractive option to take on tour, but he will face stiff competition from some of his England teammates for the remaining places.

 

Eoin Morgan

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"At this stage of the summer I am taking every innings as an opportunity to score runs and prove what I am capable of doing," Morgan said, per ESPNCricinfo, when asked about his Ashes hopes last week.

"If that opportunity arose at the end of the summer I would be a very happy man."

The Ireland-born batsman was a regular feature in the England Test setup between 2010 and early-2012, but fell out of the reckoning after a series of disappointing innings saw his average fall to just over 30 at that level.

Just 27, though, stand-in one-day captain Morgan will feel that he still has the ability to contribute in all forms of the game—a point he set about proving with a century and a fifty in his last two innings.

More performances like those will see Morgan propelled to the front of the selectors' minds ahead of the winter and his prior experience at Test level should also play in his favour ahead of what will be a high-pressured series.

 

Ravi Bopara

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Another player in a similar position to Morgan is Essex batsman Ravi Bopara. With an average of just under 32 from his 19 Test innings, he has failed to come good on his talent thus far but remains on the fringes of the England setup.

Bopara showed his abilities in early 2009, per ESPNCricinfo, when he scored three centuries in quick succession against the West Indies in what was seen as a breakthrough moment in his career. Those innings, though, remain his only Test scores over 50.

The 28-year-old spoke of his Ashes hopes to Sky Sports News earlier this week:

I don't know where I stand right now, but I know I've got to get runs—it's a simple formula. If you keep putting results on the board, knocking at that door, eventually someone's going to open it. My plan is to be annoying, just tick along at that door and hopefully one day someone comes along and opens it and i get my chance.

Those comments came off the back of an unbeaten 101 against Ireland last week, but it is against Australia where Bopara must perform to return to the Test arena.

 

Boyd Rankin

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England's standout performer of the last few days has undoubtedly been 6'8" seam bowler Boyd Rankin, who only made his ODI debut for his new country in Malahide last week.

Rankin, a former Ireland international, switched allegiance to England earlier this year with a view to playing Test cricket, per Sky Sports. Following an impressive start to life with the English side, that opportunity may come sooner rather than later.

As Rankin told RTE on Monday:

I would hope to have the chance to push myself in there. These ODIs are a great chance to show what I can do. I am just trying to concentrate on these ODIs and put a good show on here and hope that would put me in good stead for the winter.

Support is already growing, with the Telegraph's Derek Pringle a notable voice backing his inclusion this week. Continue to bowl well this series and those calls will increase by the day.

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