Questions had justifiably been raised as to whether the Ashes would be going ahead this year, with concerns over travel restrictions potentially scuppering the historic meet. Fortunately for cricket fans the world over this does not appear to be the case, with England now confirming the 17 man squad destined to take the fight Down Under to Australia.
However, as we head into the 72nd Ashes series, one of the longest running events in the history of the sport, which takes its name from Australia’s initial victory over the home side way back in 1882, many fans question whether this line-up has what it takes to bring home the victory.
Flying the Colors
In spite of the challenges ahead, the barmy army will no doubt turn out in force to support the hopeful squad, and ardent fans will be out to declare their loyalty. Fans can also take advantage of free bet offers available at a host of bookmakers ahead of the prestigious event, the first test of which is set to begin on December 8. It would appear that England will be needing all the help they can get this time round.
Ben Stokes is omitted from the roster due physical injury and mental health requirements, and any rumors that he may yet make a last minute appearance on the green at some stage in the test series will do little to assuage concerns. Many recall similar troubles four years ago, when Stokes missed out on the competition due to legal proceedings. Analysts point to his absence on the green in that competition as one of the factors leading to the crushing 4-0 defeat. Could the same be true in the coming Ashes?
England’s full squad this time round will include returning batters Dan Lawrence and Zak Crawley, and bowlers Dom Bess and Jack Leach. They will be joining Jonathan Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Dawid Malan, Stuart Broad, Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes, Haseeb Hameed, Rory Burns, Craig Overton, James Anderson & captain Joe Root to complete the side.
In truth, veteran experience is in short supply as England look towards their initial bout. Of the 17 players, a total of 10 will be heading into their first ever Ashes tour. Also conspicuous by his absence is Sam Curran, recovering from a problematic stress fracture of the lower back. This will place undue pressure on the few players to have earned their stripes, with Root, Broad and Anderson being looked at to make magic around the wickets and runs. Will they be able to do enough to hold the team together? It’ll be a tough run for England.