Ashes 2013/14: Assessing England's Squad for Tour of Australia

Mark PattersonUK Staff WriterSeptember 23, 2013

Ashes 2013/14: Assessing England's Squad for Tour of Australia

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    England have announced a 17-man squad to tour Australia today for the winter Ashes.

    There were recalls for the likes of Monty Panesar and Chris Tremlett, uncapped players such as Gary Ballance and Boyd Rankin, and notable absentees like Tim Bresnan and James Taylor, along with the names you would expect in a settled team.

    Have England got it right? Are all the bases covered? 

    We run down the list of players one by one to see what their records, strengths and weaknesses are as England prepare to defend the urn they have now held since 2009. 

    All records are taken from ESPNCricinfo

Alastair Cook (Captain)

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Left-hand bat, opener

    Age 28

     

    Record:

     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests9717310780129447.851658547.03253289610890

     

    Ashes record: Deceptive. One unforgettable series in 2010/11, in which he scored 766 runs at an average of 127.66. That aside? 27.66 in 2006/7, 24.66 in 2009 and 27.7 in 2013.

     

    Strength: Temperament and experience. Cook has seen it all before and been unflappable throughout. Will earn his 100th Test cap during the series and is likely pass 8,000 Test runs. England can rely on his ability to keep his side grounded under the scrutiny of a tour Down Under.

     

    Weakness: Form. Since his memorable series in India at the end of 2012, the runs have dried up steadily for Cook. Needs to prove to himself that it is a blip rather than a return to the days where he did not know where his off stump was.

     

    Likely to play? Unless he is injured. And he just doesn't get injured.

Matt Prior (Vice Captain)

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat, wicketkeeper

    Age 31

     

    Record:

     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests72110203813131*42.36613062.207264561520713

     

    Ashes record: His batting average of 32 against the Australians does not compare favourably to his career average of 42.

     

    Strength: Team man. Prior has quietly risen to vice captain by virtue of his experience and dedication to the cause. A poor series in the 2013 Ashes doesn't make him any less crucial to England's prospects Down Under. 

     

    Weakness: Form is a concern, for all that: 133 runs across five Ashes Tests this summer was a meagre return while the Australian veteran Brad Haddin's glovework stood up well against Prior's over the course of the series.

     

    Likely to play? Won't be missing this one.

James Anderson

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-arm fast-medium bowler

    Age 31

     

    Record:

     MatInnsBallsRunsWktsBBIBBMAveEconSR4w5w10
    Tests871611920799073297/4311/7130.113.0958.318152

     

    Ashes record: A slow start to his Ashes career but his contributions in 2010/11 and 2013 were first class and he looks like a bowler at the peak of his powers.

     

    Strength: Can make the ball talk on just about any pitch and has enviable control of swing, as well as the ability to bowl to a plan.

     

    Weakness: One of the few England players with no clear weakness, be it in terms of form, injury or technique. An exceptional bowler somewhere very close to the peak of his powers.

     

    Likely to play? First name on the teamsheet—after the captain's.

Jonny Bairstow

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    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat, middle order

    Reserve wicketkeeper

    Age 23

     

    Record:

     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests122025449530.22112848.220470260

     

    Ashes record: Not a series to boast about this summer, culminating in his axing from the No. 6 role by the final match.

     

    Strength: Versatility. The fact he can keep wicket has earned him the chance to tour. Without it, it would be easy to have left him out of the squad.

     

    Weakness: Technical. Australia spotted his balance issues and dismissed him by hitting the wickets on several occasions in the summer. Bairstow's talent is unquestioned, but doubts remain over his confidence and technique.

     

    Likely to play? Owes his place in the squad to his versatility but no certainty to feature. Potentially up against Ballance or even Stokes for the No. 6 role.

Gary Ballance

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    Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

    Left-hand bat, middle order

    Age 23

     

    Record: Has not played Test cricket.

     

    Ashes record: Has not played Test cricket.

     

    Strength: Formidable county record. His first-class average is 52 and his progress has not gone unnoticed by the selectors.

     

    Weakness: Could he be dropped straight into an Ashes decider if required? His international career is one ODI and two deliveries old.

     

    Likely to play? No—but even being in the squad represents an achievement. James Taylor, selected as cover for Kevin Pietersen during the Ashes 2013, does not make the squad, which suggests Ballance is on the rise.

Ian Bell

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat, middle order

    Age 31

     

    Record:

     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests9316021648723546.661311149.47203776625740

     

    Ashes record: Greatly enhanced by a man-of-the-series performance this summer, featuring three centuries.

     

    Strength: Form. Bell's elegance and style was matched by grit in 2013. At the age of 31, and with eight years of Test cricket under his belt, he finally looks ready to lead a batting line-up.

     

    Weakness: Troughs. When Bell's form deserts him, it does so more abruptly and more painfully than it does for many of his colleagues. His Ashes triumph came after a run during the winter in which his place was under threat.

     

    Likely to play? Certain.

Stuart Broad

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-arm fast-medium bowler

    Age 27

     

    Record:

     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests628510185516924.73294962.9011023815180

     

     MatInnsBallsRunsWktsBBIBBMAveEconSR4w5w10
    Tests621121292566372177/4411/12130.583.0859.58102

     

    Ashes record: Patchy would be the kindest description. Apart from devastating spells at the Oval in 2009 and Durham in 2013, there is little of note on Broad's record from three series against Australia.

     

    Strength: When it all goes right, Broad can be unplayable. The bowler can marry pace to a full length and late movement like few other bowlers in the world.

     

    Weakness: Doesn't go right as often as it should and can occasionally be anonymous.

     

    Likely to play? Only injury would deny him a starting berth.

Michael Carberry

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Left-hand bat, opener

    Age 32

     

    Record:

     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests120643432.0014045.71009010

     

    Ashes record: Has yet to play.

     

    Strength: Has piled on runs in county cricket and has been around the block in the domestic game.

     

    Weakness: Has not yet convinced in any format of the game for his country, though his opportunities have been very limited.

     

    Likely to play? Cover for Root and Cook, and unlikely to feature.

Steven Finn

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Right-arm fast bowler

    Age 24

     

    Record:

     MatInnsBallsRunsWktsBBIBBMAveEconSR4w5w10
    Tests234343482646906/1259/18729.403.6548.3540

     

    Ashes record: Started two series now and has been dropped by the end of both. For all that, his wicket haul is not poor.

     

    Strength: Pace and bounce—if Finn gets it right, he could be the most dangerous bowler in England's armoury in Australia.

     

    Weakness: Form. To the outsider looking in, it looks as if captain Cook does not fully trust him to bowl accurately and to a plan. Finn, who has had his action and run-up remodelled in recent months, can lose his rhythm easily.

     

    Likely to play? Will have to impress in the warm-ups to get back into the reckoning.

Monty Panesar

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Left-arm spinner

    Age 31

     

    Record:


    Mat
    InnsBallsRunsWktsBBIBBMAveEconSR4w5w10
    Tests48811205055401646/3711/21033.782.7573.44122

     

    Ashes record: 11 wickets at 44.9 don't point to a hugely successful record against the Baggy Greens.

     

    Strength: Simon Kerrigan's disastrous debut at the Oval this summer proved that Panesar is still England's second-best spinner—and his left-arm spin is a good foil for Swann's off-breaks.

     

    Weakness: Personal issues. Many would consider Panesar somewhat fortunate to have earned a recall to the national team at a time when his personal life has attracted more attention than his cricket.

     

    Likely to play? Only in the event of an injury to Swann—Australia are unlikely to prepare a pitch which encourages a side to play two spinners.

Kevin Pietersen

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    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat, middle order

    Age 33

     

    Record:

    Batting and fielding averages
     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests991718788722748.381266462.27233396076590

     

    Ashes record: Impressive. Features iconic innings, such as 158 at the Oval in 2005 and 227 in Adelaide in 2010. The average is a whisker below 50 and he has scored 1864 runs in total against the Australians.

     

    Strength: Capable of magic. It may sound trite or an oversimplification, but KP produces knocks that his teammates are not capable of playing. Even if he fires just once or twice in the series, it will be invaluable.

     

    Weakness: Injury. The knee problem that ruled him out in early 2013 is only being managed, rather than fixed. England will hope there is no deterioration, but a five-Test series will be demanding.

     

    Likely to play? If fit, he'll be there.

Boyd Rankin

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Right-arm fast bowler

    Age 29

     

    Record: Has not played Test cricket.

     

    Ashes record: Has not played Test cricket.

     

    Strength: On great form. His height and bounce troubled the Australians when he made his first appearance at ODI level, and that momentum has earned him a spot in the squad.

     

    Weakness: Untested at Test level and competing against direct rivals with similar qualities in the form of Finn and Tremlett.

     

    Likely to play? Has a chance but will need to dazzle in the warm-up matches.

Joe Root

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat, opener

    Age 22

     

    Record:

     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests1121276318040.15182941.712380360

     

    Ashes record: One match-winning 180 but an otherwise lean summer for Root. Far too much promise for England to worry about moving him around the order.

     

    Strength: Temperament. Has looked unfazed by stepping up to international level so far. His bowling has been a useful find as well.

     

    Weakness: Is he in the right position? So far Root has looked more natural in the middle order than opening the batting.

     

    Likely to play? Almost certain.

Ben Stokes

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Left-arm batsman

    Right-arm bowler

    Age 22

     

    Record: Has not played Test cricket yet.

     

    Ashes record: Has not played Test cricket yet.

     

    Strength: A powerful all-rounder. Bowls quick and is a better batsmen, at least so far in domestic cricket. England have seen enough about him to pick him ahead of Chris Woakes, who played the fifth Ashes Test this summer.

     

    Weakness: Inexperience for one. Discipline is a question mark—he was sent home from a Lions tour of Australia last winter over late-night drinking.

     

    Likely to play? Has a chance, boosted by the absence of all-rounder Tim Bresnan from the touring party.

Graeme Swann

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Right-arm off-spinner

    Age 34

     

    Record:

     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests57701313348523.40173476.930517619500

     

     MatInnsBallsRunsWktsBBIBBMAveEconSR4w5w10
    Tests571031449770822486/6510/13228.552.9358.414173

     

    Ashes record: Never lost a series to Australia and has 55 wickets against them, albeit at a slightly worse average than his career record. 

     

    Strength: Experience. Relished pitches helpful to his bowling this summer but has worked effectively on unhelpful wickets in numerous instances in his Test career.

     

    Weakness: Australian attack. The Baggy Greens have become increasingly more attacking against spin, as James Tredwell discovered in the ODI series. It will be a battle for Swann to keep Australia's batsmen under control.

     

    Likely to play? Certain.

Chris Tremlett

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    Steve Bardens/Getty Images

    Right-arm bowler

    Age 32

     

    Record:

    MatInnsBallsRunsWktsBBIBBMAveEconSR4w5w10
    Tests112126861311496/488/15026.752.9254.8220

     

    Ashes record: Strong. Parachuted into the 2010/11 series and Australia found his pace and bounce near-impossible to handle, taking 17 wickets in three Tests at 23.35.

     

    Strength: Height and record. Ideally built to bowl in Australia, with a proven track record of wicket-taking.

     

    Weakness: Fitness. Has spent a lot of the last 18 months on the treatment table and though he was recalled for the final Test squad in the 2013 Ashes, he was overlooked.

     

    Likely to play? Possibility. Potentially vying with Finn and Rankin for one place.

Jonathan Trott

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat, No. 3

    Age 32

     

    Record: 

     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests48856374422647.39791147.329184410290

     

    Ashes record: Won the Ashes with a century on debut at The Oval in 2009, imperious in 2010/11, disappointing in 2013—but still on the winning side.

     

    Strength: Piled on the runs in the 2010/11 series Down Under, scoring 445 in a series that was in its own, understated fashion almost as impressive as Cook's famous efforts.

     

    Weakness: Has looked uncomfortable against Australian quicks all summer long, particularly the short ball. Pitches are expected to play faster in Australia than they did this summer.

     

    Likely to play? Nailed-on starter, barring injury.