With the Ashes fast approaching, with the first Test beginning Thursday November 23, both England and Australia have selected their squads in the hope of capturing the highly converted urn. So in anticipation we have selected our combined Australia/England XI:
1- David Warner: Australia’s opening batsman has proven time and time again that he is capable of making big scores. The aggressive opener was a no-brainier to take at the number one spot as he will be a big part of Australia returning the urn.
2- Alastair Cook: England fans will be hopeful that Cook can emulate his 2010 Ashes performance that saw him score three centuries including a massive 235 not out. If England are going to retain the urn, they will need Cook to score plenty of runs.
3- Usman Khawaja: Quite capable of being the leading run scorer for the series, once he is in a rhythm it is hard to stop him and he is one of England’s biggest threats. He has been in and out of the squad much to the frustration of fans. However, he has shown over the past two years just how dominant he can be when batting on Australia wickets.
4- Steve Smith: The captain will need to be at his best to help Australia get the series win, we know he is quite capable of making big scores and is an asset in the slips. A good leader on and off the field which is paramount to winning the series.
5- Joe Root: A player who is no stranger to making runs. Hetop scored during the last Ashes series and is a real threat to the Australian bowlers. He will need to be dismissed early or he will stay and punish Australia on the score-sheet.
6- Jonny Bairstow: Chosen as the wicket keeper for the combined XI, handy with the bat as shown when selected as a batsman and has been the first choice keeper for England in recent times.
7- Ben Stokes: Mystery still surrounds Stokes’ availability for this Ashes series. But we have decided to pick him as he is currently still named in the squad and he is just too good too leave out. A brilliant all around cricketer, destructive with both the bat and theball. If Stokes does feature for England it could be the difference between winning and losing. Recent reports also suggest he will make the trip to Australia for the first Test.
8- Mitchell Starc: Arguably the best bowler in this combined XI on current form. He bowled well in the first two rounds of the Sheffield Shield with 10 and seven wickets hauls. Will take many wickets when he has the new ball in his hands, and is also a handy lower order batsman.
9- Stuart Broad: England are going to need Broad to take plenty of wickets and upset the Australian top order. Likely to open the bowling and also very good with the new ball, not a favourite in the Australian fans’ eyes but its no doubt he is a brilliant cricketer.
10- Nathan Lyon: The best spinner out of the two teams and will take wickets this Ashes series. He is quite capable to turning a game on its head and even securing a few man of the match awards. The bouncy Australian wickets will suite his bowling.
11- Josh Hazlewood: Arguably Australia’s most consistent bowler, will take wickets for not many runs in comparison to other bowlers. A very handy player to have on your team and will be a big asset to Australia if they want to win the series.
12th Man- Cameron Bancroft: Bancroft is set to debut in the first Test at the Gabba as opener following Matt Renshaw’s axing. He is in outstanding form at present, culminating in an unbeaten 228 against South Australia in his last Sheffield Shield match for Western Australia last week.