Does England’s Ashes Squad Really Matter?

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Hameed or Stoneman?

Jennings or Westley?

Hameed and Stoneman?

Malan or/and Ballance?

Does it really matter?

England Lions (Or A Team if you’d rather be old-fashioned about it) will, like England’s senior side, be in Australia this winter. The last thing England want is another Boyd Rankin episode, i.e. get to the fifth Test and pick a player who isn’t prepped to play. I appreciate that Australia’s a big country and England need cover for any last minute dramas (Glenn McGrath step on the ball style) and fielding substitutes but once a Test is under way then it would seem logical to rotate the non-playing squad members with Lions players. This way the first team reserves can keep their eye in and/or clock up some overs incase they’re required for a Test outing. If by any chance the Lions players supersede first Team squad members then so be it. England need to make the most of what resources they have and be ruthless when it comes to selection. This philosophy may seem rather un-me like provided my penchant for a ‘pick and stick’ approach but this is a tough long tour and England need to select the players that are primed and ready to perform. Australia are renowned for providing pretty limp opposition for a touring England side but Test playing nations are obliged to present touring A (Or Lions) teams with reasonable opposition, otherwise there’d be little point. Come the later Tests in the series, England can’t expect players that have been ferrying the drinks and netting for a month to just rock up and produce the goods in the hostile auditoriums of Australia.

So whether Hameed or Westley make the full team or Malan or Jennings make the Lions, any of them could turn out for England come the Ashes. A broken finger in the nets or calf strain when scampering a single in a warm-up game could force England into a change of plans. Don’t forget what happened the last time England went to Australia when opening batsman Michael Carberry was selected as back-up. He scored 150 in a tour game and went onto play five Ashes Tests.

Hameed to Debut in Rajkot!

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Barring a Glenn McGrath style step on the ball or an Alastair Cookesque vomiting session, Lancashire’s Nineteen-year-old opening batsman Haseeb Hameed will become England Test cricketer number 674 when the tourists take on India in the first of a five-match Test series in Rajkot (Another Test debutant) tomorrow.

With hindsight, or even without, England should probably have selected Hameed in Bangladesh instead of Gary Ballance with Ben Duckett batting at four. It’s slightly disappointing that on the back of his maiden Test fifty Duckett, having suggested he can provide England with David Warner type starts to innings now has to drop down the order. Though Duckett’s run scoring at the top of the order (For both Northamptonshire and England Lions) has been relentless this year, he has previously been more of a middle order option and in this terrain Hameed and Duckett’s qualities are hopefully now to be found in the appropriate location, Hameed as dour opener and Duckett in an adaptable middle order.

Let’s not forget Gary Ballance either. He is still on this tour and it will be a bitterly disappointing and frustrating time for him but if Delhi Belly runs riot through the England camp Ballance may yet still be required. If he is let’s hope that he can return to being the hundred hunter that he was when he first arrived in international cricket. Remember that the twenty-six-year-old was the third fastest to 1000 Test runs for England.

Back to Hameed and the alarmingly aptly named Duckett. Fingers crossed that neither of them get a mention on International Duck Watch in the upcoming days!