England have named their squad(s) for the Australian Tour, who will be charged with attempting to retain the Ashes on Aussie soil. Fortunately they will be competing for them not over just one Test Match, but in the newly-formatted Ashes Series - One Test, three ODIs and three T20s, with 6 points available in each format.
The squad for the Test and the ODIs is Edwards, Brindle, Brunt, Cross, Elwiss, Greenway, Gunn, Hazell, Jones, Knight, Sciver, Shrubsole, Taylor, Winfield, Wyatt.
The squad for the T20s is Edwards, Brindle, Brunt, Elwiss, Farrant, Greenway, Gunn, Hazell, Jones, Knight, Sciver, Shrubsole, Taylor, Winfield, Wyatt
It is good to see Brunt, Knight and Shrubsole back after injury kept them out of the recent West Indies tour. Laura Marsh it seems has not made such a good recovery. England will be keeping their fingers crossed that all three of the returnees remain fit as they are key components of a strong England side.
However without Marsh and the "retired" Holly Colvin England are looking rather short in the spin bowling department. Dani Hazell has her good and her bad days, and Danni Wyatt bowled just three overs in the recent Caribbean crusade. No explanation was given for her lack of arm-twirling, and had Colvin or Marsh been available for Australia then her place on the tour may well have been in doubt. As it is England will be looking to these two to get through plenty of overs in the Test. Wyatt was not selected for the Test at Wormsley (behind Marsh and Hazell) and Hazell herself bowled 31 wicketless overs conceding 132 runs. Whilst the WACA is unlikely to be a raging bunsen, spinners will play an important part in a long game in a hot climate.
Newcomers Kate Cross and Tash Farrant will both get to experience an Ashes abroad, with the former selected for the both the Test and ODI squads and the latter taking her place for the T20s. It seems a diplomatic solution as neither disappointed in the Windies. In reality it is unlikely either will play unless there are injuries or England win the Test and the first two ODIs.
Amy Jones is once again selected as the back-up keeper - a pretty thankless task behind the world's number one keeper in Sarah Taylor, but they have to have some cover in case of injury. This means that Tammy Beaumont misses out, but given that she has 49 ODI and T20 caps and is yet to make a 50 she has had plenty of opportunities to nail down a place in the team.
Charlotte Edwards will, of course, be skipper. England will be hoping she regains her form with the bat and that she and Knight can get England off to the starts they need in the longer formats of the game. It would not surprise me to see her relinquish the opener's role in the T20s, especially if England have the series wrapped up.
The Aussies are due to announce their squad later this week. There are unlikely to be too many surprises, but they have batsmen in form in Villani, Lanning, Bolton, Ebsary, Blackwell and Cameron. Their bowlers are not having quite such a good time of things at the moment, but they have games to play before England turn up. England will need to hit the ground running with 6 points immediately at stake for the Test which starts on 10th January.