Friday, 5 June 2015

Who will make the England Ashes Squad?

So it looks like England will not name their squad of players that will represent England in the Ashes Series - three ODIs, one Test and three T20s - until the beginning of July.

I expect the squad to be probably 15/16 players and there will be no designation of who will play in which format. In the past this was done before the series started, only for injury and form to require changes to be made as the series went along. I anticipate that the pared-down squad for each format will be announced a few days before each format begins.

Delaying the squad announcement until early July will also give the players in contention a few more chances to show what they can do. There are county T20 fixtures on 14th June, followed by County Championship  games on 21st June. There is also then apparently an England v England Academy game on 30th June in Loughborough. The recent four day fixture (the "Loughborough Test") with this moniker actually turned out to be a practice match for the Winter Training Squad of 22, plus a few Academy players. This could well be the same, and it could be a last chance to impress before the squad is announced.

As things stand it is very hard to see England picking any player outside of the 18 contracted players. Of those 18 two missed the Loughborough Test - Danni Wyatt with her shoulder injury, which she picked up slipping over batting against Berkshire two weeks ago and Jenny Gunn, who has a foot issue. Both I understand hope to be back playing very soon.

Assuming therefore that the entire squad is fit which 15/16 will get the nod?

The first names on the squad list will be Charlotte Edwards, Sarah Taylor and Heather Knight. They have all been in a bit of form with the bat in the County Championship and each one of them got a score in the Loughborough Test. Knight's bowling form does look to be a bit of an issue and I suspect she may have a current back issue, but I could well be wrong. This is just from her body language at Loughborough.

Next on the list will be Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole. They have been the mainstay of England's pace attack for the last three years, and will no doubt continue to be so this summer, although both have been a bit expensive of late, guilty of bowling too short on occasions. Both have been working hard on their batting and it would not surprise me to see them migrate to the all-rounders role (possibly sooner rather than later), with less expected of their bowling. Kate Cross is the next pace bowler in the pecking order and will be selected. She has had a well-documented effect in the men's game early this season, but she has found wickets hard to come by in the women's game - just two in the three Women's County Championship matches and only one in two stints at the Loughborough Test. This may be down to a matter of respect. She gets it in the women's game, but perhaps she does not in the men's?

As for spinners off -spinner Dani Hazell and left-armer Rebecca Grundy  seem certain to keep their places in the squad. Hazell has a knack of taking wickets although she can be expensive. Grundy is generally pretty miserly but is a less attacking option.

The ninth name into the squad will undoubtedly be Amy Jones. Her name is pencilled in early as the back-up keeper to Sarah Taylor, but she also has a right to be considered as a middle-order batting option, particularly after her fine century at the Loughborough Test. She is a very selfless player, who has probably not had as many chances as she deserves. I would like to think she will get them this summer, but I think once again poor form or injury for others will be her only way into the final 11.

Despite poor form against the Shooting Stars in Dubai and an iffy start to the County Championship, Nat Sciver's name will almost certainly feature in the squad and in the 11 to play in the first ODI on 21st July. Her final innings in New Zealand showed what she is capable of, but England desperately need her to fire early. Lydia Greenway will also make the squad, but she was dropped from the starting 11 in New Zealand after some poor batting displays and she looks vulnerable. Lauren Winfield has been in decent form for Yorkshire in their two games thus far this season and hit a decent 56 in the Loughborough Test. It looks like England are considering her as a possible opening bat in the longer formats of the game (she currently has the job in the T20s), allowing Charlotte Edwards to prop up a middle order that has been found wanting on far too many occasions recently. After her exploits in Dubai with the bat against the Shooting Stars and a crisp 71 in the second innings at Loughborough, plus her ability to bowl, Georgia Elwiss, is likely to find her name in the squad. She is an attacking option, both with the bat and the ball. She might have to sit out the first few games, but could well get a chance later in the series, depending on results and player fitness. Finally long-serving Jenny Gunn's name will be in the 15. She had a miserable time out in New Zealand, but I cannot see England leaving her out of the squad. It was a great shame that she was not fit enough to play in the Loughborough Test, where she could have shown what she can do, but she has had a reasonable start to the season with Notts, if county form counts for anything?

So that leaves just one or two places in the squad. Of the 18 contracted players you have Tammy Beaumont, Tash Farrant, Laura Marsh, and Danni Wyatt left. I think one or two will be taken from here. The four others in the Winter Training Squad were Jodie Dibble, Beth Langston, Sonia Odedra and Fran Wilson. Who gets the final couple of slots is a matter of conjecture and overall squad make-up. There could even be a couple of surprises, but I think that is unlikely unless there are injury issues.

As for the starting 11 in the first ODI I think they will go with :-
Winfield, Knight, Taylor, Edwards, Sciver, Greenway, Brunt, Shrubsole, Gunn, Hazell, Grundy

As for my 11 I would go with :-
Winfield, Knight, Sciver, Taylor, Edwards, Elwiss, Jones, Shrubsole, Brunt, Hazell, Grundy



  1. Interesting that you think Edwards will be dropping down the order first up at the start if the series. It may be best to see if the middle order is still misfiring first to see if that is necessary. It seems like a negative step, I'd rather keep Lottie at the top and back a revamped middle order with Elwiss and moving Brunt and Shrubsole up. At least to begin with. In may view Sciver is extremely lucky to be in the starting line-up. Personally I'd do a straight swap with Elwiss, and have Marsh/Gunn as well, and only bring Sciver back if things start to go badly.Otherwise it's a great squad and starting XI.

  2. I personally don't think Amy Jones will be in the starting 11 when you've got Danni Wyatt in the mix. Her batting is better than Jones and she gives a another option with the handy off spinners. Also, with Wyatt in there it gives chance to strengthen the batting, so I think Grundy will miss out and Beaumont will come in. I think Jenny Gunn will be in as well so straight swap for Elwiss.
    My starting 11 for the ODIs would be;
    Edwards, knight, Taylor, greenway, scriver, Beaumont, Wyatt, Gunn, brunt, Shrubsole, hazell

  3. Even before reading your excellent article above I’d had a go at my three starting XIs.

    TEST: Jones E, Knight, Edwards, Taylor, Winfield, Jones A, Elwiss, Brunt, Grundy, Hazell, Cross

    ODI: Winfield, Knight, Edwards, Taylor, Wyatt, Jones A, Elwiss, Brunt, Shrubsole , Grundy, Hazell,

    T20: Winfield, Knight, Edwards, Taylor, Wyatt, Sciver, Elwiss, Brunt, Shrubsole, Hazell, Grundy

    Evelyn Jones looked every bit a Test opener at Luffbra recently. Deserves a chance to prove it.
    Jones (A) should keep in the Test for some of the time to give Taylor a 'rest' before batting.
    It’s really a toss of a coin between Jones (A) and Sciver for the No 6 in ODI
    Elwiss gets ahead of Sciver and Gunn as the all rounder because her 2015 performances have been much better.
    Sciver displaces Jones in the T20 on the potential of her 6 hitting ability - mind you it’s only potential at the moment
    Brunt and Shrubsole in Test is a big risk from the injury point of view - hence the ever injury-free Cross gets in.
    Hazell and Grundy because left and right arm combo - and I reckon the Aussies will get on top of Knight's spinning.
    Other well known players not included are absent either because of lack of recent form and/or lack of any previous success with England and/or snail pace scoring rate.

    So in my ODI XI there is only one difference to yours. Great minds etc etc.

  4. Yes I forgot about Cross somehow! She has to be in the starting line up, possibly in every format. And I agree with Clanger I don't think we will be able to rely on Knight's bowling, she seems to have been found out. But I think she is good lower down the order to counterattack or support tail. My ODI team: Edwards, Winfield, Taylor, Elwiss, A Jones, Knight, Brunt, Shrubsole, Hazell, Grundy, Cross

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