England's Ashes squad named

September 27, 2017

England's 16-man squad to defend the Ashes down under this winter has been named, with three uncapped players included.

Surrey fans will have reason to cheer with the inclusion of Ben Foakes as the reserve wicketkeeper. As he takes his place alongside Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes, the possibilities for rhyming scorecards are numerous. 

Mark Stoneman is also retained as the opening batsman to play alongside Alastair Cook. No other specialist opening batsmen have been included, with Lancashire's Haseeb Hameed and Durham's Keaton Jennings, who will join him at Old Trafford next year, missing out.

Surrey fans booking corporate hospitality for England's matches at the Kia Oval next summer, including a Test against India, will be hoping the pair can make an impact and feature at the venue next summer.

Stoneman and Middlesex batsman Dawid Malan keep their places after the West Indies series, but Tom Westley is dropped after the South African and West Indian pace bowlers exposed technical flaws in his batting this summer.

The selectors have brought back Yorkshire's Gary Ballance, who started the summer in the Test side before breaking a finger, and recalled James Vince, who has a modest record from his seven Tests to date but whose technique may be better suited to Australian pitches. 

Vince's selection meant a return for a player who has not played since last summer, but advocates of a return for the Hampshire player include former England skipper Michael Vaughan. Vaughan certainly knows a thing or two about what is required to make big runs in Australia, having recorded scores of 177, 145 and 183 in the 2002-03 series - a feat that put him top of the ICC batting rankings. 

The bowling options have been restricted by a serious back injury to Toby Roland-Jones that has ruled him out, with Mark Ball coming in as a like-for-like selection. 

Fast bowler Mark Wood misses out due to concerns over an ongoing heel problem, although he is in the England Lions squad to tour down under, so he could join the party later. In his absence, the selectors have chosen the uncapped Somerset paceman Craig Overton over the extra pace and aggression of Liam Plunkett. 

The spin department will see Moeen Ali being backed up by Hampshire's Mason Crane, who has played Twenty20 cricket for England, but not a Test. Crane was part of the squad for the West Indies series and there was speculation he would have played at Lord's had the defeat at Headingley not forced the selectors to priorities winning the deciding Test. 

However, Crane has plenty of experience in Australian conditions, having enjoyed a very successful season in grade cricket there last year, playing one match for New South Wales. 

England also have a new fast bowling coach following Ottis Gibson's decision to take over the South African head coach job. Former New Zealand speedster Shane Bond takes his place, while Paul Collingwood, a member of the successful 2010-11 Ashes winning squad, will also be on the coaching staff. 

The series will include one new Ashes experience as the Adelaide Test will be played as a day-night game with a pink ball, but Perth will provide the familiar surroundings of the WACA after delays to the construction of a new stadium in the city meant it would not be ready to stage a Test.  

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription

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