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Ashes squad player-by-player

Martin Gough | 16:02 UK time, Tuesday, 12 September 2006

martin_gough.jpg No big surprises there, then. Perhaps the biggest was the news that 14 players, rather than the five suggested, will take up residence in Perth to act as cover.

They will be in place a week before the start of the first Test, probably a good plan with six of the first-choice 16 still doubtful, of which more later.

Here, then, are some quick thoughts on the 16 (and some even quicker ones).

Andrew Flintoff – Named as captain because of his inspirational style and ability to handle the highest pressure but he must prove he has recovered from ankle surgery sufficiently to play a full part in five Tests over eight weeks.

I asked him if he could play as a specialist batsman not up to bowling his full quota. He said: “I’m confident I’ll be bowling.”

Andrew Strauss – Must put his disappointment behind him to reproduce the sort of form he has shown this summer, when he hit two key second-innings centuries against Pakistan. There were two in similar style against Australia in 2005.

Marcus Trescothick – Another player with doubts hanging over him, he insists he will be able to face the pressure in Australia despite opting out of October’s ICC Champions Trophy in India because of a stress-related illness.

Alastair Cook – Australia will remember his double-century against them for Essex in a two-day game last summer, and he has taken to the Test arena like a duck to sliced white bread with three centuries in nine matches and an average of 54.35.

Kevin Pietersen – A year to the day since his 158 on this very ground clinched England’s first Ashes series victory in 18 years, Pietersen’s light has barely dimmed, although his tendency to get out to expansive shots hasn’t endeared him to everyone.

Ian Bell – Cowed by Shane Warne last summer, Bell spent some time away from the side working on his body language, and has not looked back. He will walk out at the Gabba in late November aiming for his fourth century in five Tests – an attempt at four in four was denied by the Pakistan’s Oval walk-out.

Paul Collingwood – Scored arguably the most important 10 in Test history a year ago today, occupying 72 minutes in partnership with Pietersen. A regular this summer, he currently looks like the batting reserve with Flintoff back in the side.

Chris Read – Ended a two-year spell in the wilderness when he returned in the middle of the Pakistan series and showed his batting has improved, as promised, with 126 occasionally unorthodox runs in three innings. Geraint Jones’ place in the squad will keep the pressure on but Read looks likely to start the series in Brisbane.

Geraint Jones – Has done little since being dropped to argue for a return but is a known quantity who performed adequately against Australia last year.

Monty Panesar – Dig out that comedy beard and download the mp3 of that song by The Automatic. The mania that accompanies the Mont-ster is about to be unleashed on Australia. Panesar can now be considered a wicket-taking option the equal of the fast bowlers who won the last series, and should be especially dangerous at spin-friendly Adelaide and Sydney.

Ashley Giles - England’s first-choice spinner when he last played, Giles has been out since November with a groin injury and faces a race against time to rediscover his old form. Perhaps oddly, he will travel to India in October but just train with the team. Nevertheless, coach Duncan Fletcher may lobby for his reliability over Panesar’s attacking threat.

Sajid Mahmood – England hope he will fill the shoes of the injured Simon Jones, who took 18 Ashes Test wickets at an average of 21 last summer but has not played since. Mahmood has displayed flashes of brilliance but is still searching for consistency.

Steve Harmison – Started the 2005 Ashes with a bang, taking five wickets at Lord’s but has run hot and cold since, with shin and back trouble limiting his effectiveness this year. At his best, though, he is a fast, hostile match-winner.

Matthew Hoggard – Asked his memories of his last visit to Brisbane, Hoggard singled out “That bloody left-hander”, Matthew Hayden, who smashed 186 on the first day of the 2002/03 series. Hoggard, who has played in the last 36 consecutive Tests, will prosper if the new ball swings but must focus on his consistency with the older cherry if the early breakthroughs do not come.

James Anderson – He burst onto the international scene during the one-day portion of the last Ashes tour but Anderson spent time in the wilderness, refining his action, and had only just returned to his best when a back injury ruined his 2006 summer. It would be expecting a lot to throw him cold into an Ashes Test.

Liam Plunkett – Impressed in six Tests and 16 ODIs between last November and July, when he suffered a side injury. He started bowling again in the nets this week but will not get to play before the end of the county season. Many see him, rather than Mahmood, as a replacement Simon Jones as he is skiddier and shapes the ball well.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:12 PM on 12 Sep 2006,
  • Stuart wrote:

Woe is England! I've just realised Plunkett is in the squad - why? Forget my earlier comment about Broad being in the squad instead of Mahmood. Broad should be there instead of Plunkett!!

  • 2.
  • At 04:16 PM on 12 Sep 2006,
  • Chez wrote:

Here's one for you. Instead of Plunkett, how about Ramprakash?? His only good performances in tests have been against the Aussies, and he's in good form. Why didn't they take him!!

  • 3.
  • At 04:36 PM on 12 Sep 2006,
  • mark wrote:

What is the point of taking two slow left arm spinners especaly when one is injured!

Giles should never have been given a place in the squad Dalrymple has been robbed of his place but i do agree with Broads exclution from the squad he needs more time to develop his talents even further

  • 4.
  • At 05:44 PM on 12 Sep 2006,
  • Martin Gough wrote:

Mark, I agree to a point but I think England can afford to be blase, to a degree, because of the Academy squad they are taking to Perth for the first five weeks of the series.

Had they not chosen Giles, Jamie Dalrymple would have been in the squad. If Giles doesn't make it in time, Dalrymple is only a domestic flight away.

Either way, Monty Panesar looks like the first-choice spinner, with Giles or Dalrymple the over-eater and number eight batsman.

  • 5.
  • At 06:23 PM on 12 Sep 2006,
  • jlo wrote:

i am not happy that flintoff has been chosen to captain an english side. i do not think this is the right deision as he is not even fully fit, let-alone able to think about the perforance of a whole team. i can see this is going to be another disastrous ashes series down under...

  • 6.
  • At 06:57 PM on 12 Sep 2006,
  • Nandu wrote:

So, what is England's starting XI come December and the first test?

I'd think Trescothick, Cook, Strauss, Bell, Pietersen, Flintoff, Read, Hoggard, Harmison, Mahmood and Panesar. The top order batting seems okay - we've really replaced Cook for Vaughn - but given the way Cook has shaped plus the presence of Collingwood, things should be fine. BUT, in replacing Jones and Giles with Read and Panesar, England's lower order batting seems pretty brittle.

I think what happens in the Champions trophy will determine whether Read actually ends up starting. And in Adelaide and Sydney (given fitness), I'd expect both Giles and Panesar to play, with on fast bowler (Mahmood?) sitting out.

  • 7.
  • At 09:56 PM on 12 Sep 2006,
  • Dave Simpson wrote:

I think its a bold decision by the England selectors and I hope it works this winter.
Good Luck

  • 8.
  • At 10:24 PM on 12 Sep 2006,
  • keisha wrote:

i think the sides quite gd theres a few growing player in that team but still they will get used 2 it but i think thy need vaughn n simon jones bk or they need 2 hav the england side thy had last year because the sprit in that team was exellent. i hope flintoff doesnt have too much pressure because he needs to get the crowede going like he did last year, and i think they should swap wicket keeper to give them both a chance so they dont have to sit around and wait for one of them, to b injured

  • 9.
  • At 10:33 PM on 12 Sep 2006,
  • jo wrote:

OMG...MAHMOOD IS AMAZIN...4get bout plunkett n broad...saj is our last years simon jones....all u bunch a losers thinkin he aint gd without him..we wud hav nevr of drew the be grtfull..u dogs!....just needs som support does saj!!! giv him tht and wtch wt happns!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! all u losers

  • 10.
  • At 02:36 PM on 13 Sep 2006,
  • cheap web hosting wrote:

I think the selectors have chosen the right team and the right skipper for the ashes series.
Except two Ashley Giles, Plunkett.
Ashley Giles : I don't remember when he played his last match and he is also suffering from injury, his selection is really pointless.
Plunkett: I think instead of him an extra batsman would have been better.

  • 11.
  • At 03:06 PM on 13 Sep 2006,
  • Tim wrote:

i cannot belive that everyone is questioning the inclusion of ashley giles in the squad. has everyone forgotten his ability to bat unlike panasar who bats like a frog with no arms. Giles has always been a consistant performer and can get wickets.

  • 12.
  • At 03:15 PM on 13 Sep 2006,
  • austen wrote:

The overall picture is one of too many injured players. And yes Giles and Plunkett were the most dispensable of these.

Panesar must be played. The issue is thus one of which spinner is best suited to join him should 2 be needed within a 5man attack at, say, Adelaide and Sydeny. Dalyrmple had 4 advantages over Giles. 1. being fit. 2. a decent bat at 7 rather than Giles who is decent at 8. 3. to provide variety, turning the ball away from the numerous left handers in the Aussie line-up. 4. off-spinners have historically done quite well against AUS. OK Giles is the better spinner but not sufficiently so to compensate for these aspects.

As for Plunkett he is a decent bowler but possibly the weakest and like Mahmood liable to bowl loosely at times. Its hard to say he is better than Broad or Tremlett both of whom are fit and would be just as complementary to the other bowlers, if needed (unlike Lewis who good as he is can only really be brought in if Hoggard is unfit).

  • 13.
  • At 04:20 PM on 13 Sep 2006,
  • Complete Web Design and Development wrote:

I think it's a fair selection, the selectors have chosen the best available 16 players. Although it won't be a full strength English side, it would be better than the present scenario where most of the star players were not playing due to injuries.

I think the choice of freddie as skipper shows that england want to play agressive cricket, which will be needed when the 1st test starts. Strauss is a good captain, but freddie is inspirational, and that is what we need.

as for the Giles/Plunkett decision, I think jamie Dalrymple should be in for Giles...purely because Giles is not fit...yet. If Giles proves himself then he should be given a chance, but only then. As for Plunkett, I just don't understand his inclusion...apparently he can bat ... I don't think he's proved that yet and our middle/late order is looking a bit fragile so I would bring in another batter, afterall Freddie bowls and if Collingwood and Bell played we have the choice of two seam up options if needed.

good luck the boys...


  • 15.
  • At 06:04 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • iky wrote:

hi.i think england should recall ramprakash for the ashes.he has been in prolific form this season and i think he will be needed for when england are in pressureagainst australia.also, with a lot of new blood in the team, ramprakash would be ideal as a senior member of the team who could calm things down.a sort of england mohammed yousuf.

  • 16.
  • At 03:09 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • John wrote:

Bell-Pietersen-Flintoff. You have got to be joking me, right? That is a middle-order collapse just waiting to happen.

We may have seen some what happened at home in 2005, what makes everyone think that Bell will do any better in hostile territory? Pakistan's attack is only a taste of what Australia's attack will be lobbing. Bell's centuries could very well mean nothing down under...he could just be ripped apart again.

In what we have seen, Australia likes to hit hard and a top order collapse, you can't send more troops in to be ripped apart, especially those who have little patience. Patience, as we have seen, is not either Bell's, Pietersen's or Flintoff's greatest virtues. Putting them together may have been effective in 2005, but this is 2007.

Bring on Paul Collingwood, England. Relegate him to drinks waiter duties at your peril.

  • 17.
  • At 07:57 PM on 17 Sep 2006,
  • austen wrote:

I am not sure the pessimism over Anderson is warranted. If he is fit for the Champions trophy matches and plays in them and the Ahses warm up games then he could be competing for a place. His last appearance in India saw him very nearly back to his best. When he was at his best he was often, rightly, preffered to Hoggard.

  • 18.
  • At 01:34 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Mark Kidger wrote:

Well, against all expectations, Jimmy Anderson played a couple of games for Lancashire at the end of the season and got through them okay (helped by the rain).

We really do need to see him bowl as much as possible. If he has his form and confidence back and can add fitness to that he will be a huge addition to the squad in both Tests and ODIs. It's hard to see him in the starting lineup for Brisbane, but he would give us a quality reserve with international experience to back up the starting XI, adding some strength in depth to the bowling attack. Neither side is going to be able to field an unchanged attack through such a compressed series and it will be the quality of the reserves that may well be the difference between the sides.

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