By Anurag Hegde | Head of Sport
In what came as a massive relief to apprehensive cricket fans, the England and Wales Cricket board (ECB) announced earlier this week that the decorated Ashes series scheduled to take place in Australia later this year will indeed go ahead.
The historic series was shrouded in uncertainty due to the stringent Covid-19 protocols in Australia. However, the ECB stated that “excellent progress” had been made post talks and that the men’s cricket team will travel to Australia “subject to several critical conditions being met”.
Earlier, a few players, including wicket-keeper batter Jos Buttler, had expressed their concerns over the tour. After also pulling out of the second leg of the IPL, Buttler stated that:
“You have to be open to saying no. It would be incredibly disappointing if some players feel like they can’t do it, but we’re in a world at the moment where that is a possibility.”
However, after a series of negotiations, the ECB and Cricket Australia (CA) have reached an agreement and the tour is set to go ahead.
The ECB’s confirmation will come as a great relief to CA as well with AU$200,000 in broadcast revenue at stake.
England will face a difficult challenge in the Ashes down-under
With the series being given the green signal, all eyes were on the ECB as they announced a 17-member squad that will travel to Australia. After committing to the tour, wicket-keeper batter Jos Buttler was named captain Joe Root’s deputy for the series in the absence of Ben Stokes.
Other notable misses include Moeen Ali, who recently retired from Test cricket, and Sam Curran who wasn’t considered after it was discovered that he had suffered a stress fracture in his back.
Concerningly, as has been for England all summer long, their batting department looks rather fragile with only three of them – Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan, having experience of batting on Australian shores before.
Opener Dom Sibley, who was dropped after the second Test against India earlier in the summer, found no place in the squad despite his involvement in Warwickshire’s double trophy haul with them winning both the County Championship and the Bob Willis Trophy.
Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns retained their spots at the top of the order after a decent show against India along with youngsters Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence in the middle order.
The bowling department is once again set to be spearheaded by veteran James Anderson who will return to Australia for a fifth Ashes tour. He’ll be accompanied by Stuart Broad, who is set to return to competitive cricket after a calf-injury ruled him out of the series against India earlier this year. Ollie Robinson, Craig Overton, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood will make up the rest of England’s pace attack while Jack Leach and Dom Bess have been included as spin options.
With all of England’s players committing to the tour, head-coach Chris Silverwood had this to say:
“A tour of Australia is the pinnacle as an England Test cricketer. I am delighted that all of our available players have committed to the tour. We are looking forward to touring and enjoying the experience of this historic series.”
England men’s squad for Ashes tour: Joe Root (C), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood