England are still in the middle of their first ever World cup winning euphoria, but soon they need to resume normal service as they prepare to play Ireland in a one off test followed by the big Ashes challenge against their traditional and formidable foes , Australia. The recent World cup win should give them the required momentum and confidence in the Ashes challenge although in a different format. However along with the confidence , there will now be the huge pressure to perform against a quality opposition and specially after a rare World cup triumph, no team would like to end up on a losing side in their very next big battle.
A glance at the possible test team composition will show that England has a formidable middle order in batting and a quality seam attack for English conditions. Their spin attack looks just about average but their major area of concern could be their top 3 starting with 2 openers. After Alistair Cook’s retirement or even during the last lap of his career ,England has struggled to find a proper opening pair. Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings were the two openers who were given a long run alongside Cook during his presence. However none could cement his spot. Later Rory Burns was tried out in West Indies and currently he has kept his spot after an average series. For his opening partner ,the selectors have punted on Jason Roy, England’s impact opener in the World cup. Roy’s spectacular array of cricketing shots as also his ability to defend with straight bat must have impressed the selectors. However playing the red dukes ball which swings more with an intimidating Australian pace attack to boot will throw a huge challenge to Roy . Moreover with Root ,a little adamant to stick to number 4 has also exposed England’s number 3 slot with Joe Denly to be the likely candidate with a talented but somewhat underperforming James Vince in the wings along with Olly Pope. It clearly goes without saying that the top 3 batting spots will be the biggest challenge for England in this Ashes and it won’t be a surprise if Root or Bairstow finally relents to go one step up the order at some stage.
The England middleorder however looks settled and formidable with Root, Bairstow, Stokes and Buttler — each a match winner of their own. Bairstow however needs to improve his defence and nullify his frequent dismissal of getting bowled off inside edges. Root needs to improve his conversion rate from 50s to 100s. As for spinners, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Liam Dawson could be the candidates to be chosen from.
The pace attack looks even more formidable than what they had in the World cup with the big boys, Stuart Broad and sultan of swing, James Anderson joining the test squad .Woakes and one of Jofra Archer or Mark Wood will complete a formidable pace attack. Then there is allrounder Ben Stokes. However both Anderson and Wood are currently nursing injuries and hence slightly doubtful starters for the 1st test which may open up a spot for rookie pacer Ollie Stone and left arm Sam Curran who was man of the series vs India in last season.
Man for man, the Australian pace attack looks more strong on paper with more stocks available but English attack in their own conditions will be very formidable particularly for a batting lineup of Australia, who has struggled in English conditions in more recent tours.
The stage is set for England to add the Ashes to their World cup success. If they can, it will be the greatest ever four months in Engish cricket history.