England Ashes squad: The 16 players tasked with beating Australia
England have named a 16-man squad for the first two Ashes Tests of the summer, with Moeen Ali replacing spinner Jack Leach from the original line-up.
Here we take a look at the players picked in the 2023 England Ashes squad for the series which starts at Edgbaston on June 16.
Zak Crawley (Age: 25, Caps: 34)
After a long run in the side the Kent opener averages a disappointing 28.26 but continues to enjoy robust support from those who matter in the England set-up. His ceiling is incredibly high, as shown during 2020’s career-best knock of 267 against Pakistan, but he has more often struggled to make an impression. Facing Australia’s classy attack could prove a sink or swim moment.
Ben Duckett (28, 10)
Must have thought his chance had come and gone but now finds himself with a huge opportunity to leave his mark. Hit a Lord’s century against Ireland in his first home Test so goes in full of confidence. While much of his best work has come against spin, a dashing 84 against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui will be his template.
Ollie Pope (25, 36)
Fearing the axe a year ago, he was instead empowered by the new regime and handed a promotion to number three. Hundreds against New Zealand and Pakistan last summer showed he could flourish in his new spot and he was recently elevated to the role of vice-captain. Blazed a career-best 205 against the Irish to get into the groove.
Joe Root (32, 130)
Still the crown jewel of the England batting line-up and the most prolific Test run-scorer still playing the game. Has four centuries and averages almost 62 since relinquishing the captaincy, removing any fears that the change would harm his output. After leading the Ashes humiliation of 2021/22 he has scores to settle.
Harry Brook (24, 7)
After a low-key debut at the end of last summer, the Yorkshireman enjoyed a remarkable winter that catapulted him to global prominence. A hat-trick of centuries saw him named player of the series in Pakistan, before he added another hundred in Wellington. In with a shout of becoming the fastest ever batter to 1,000 Test runs and boasting a bruising strike-rate of 99, a return to red-ball cricket may suit him after a difficult IPL.
Ben Stokes (32, 92)
Already in the running as one of England’s most impactful Test captains, he took over a hangdog team that had forgotten how to win and made them the most compelling side in the sport. His leadership is inventive, instinctive and invaluable, all of which makes his left knee injury an even bigger concern. How well he bats and how much he bowls are unknown, but it is imperative he takes the field and leads the English charge.
Jonny Bairstow (33, 90)
The star of 2022’s ‘Bazball’ summer, Bairstow was cut down by a freak injury in the midst of a career-best hot streak that at one stage brought him four magnificent hundreds in five innings. With a long and arduous rehabilitation period behind him, he has been restored as wicketkeeper. Moving down to number seven changes his role slightly, but he did sterling work there in 2016.
Dan Lawrence (25, 11)
England’s nominated top-six utility man, Lawrence is this summer’s spare batter awaiting a vacancy. Has not pulled up any trees with Essex in recent times but has impressed Stokes in the past with his buccaneering style. After 11 caps without a century, he is still in need of a statement knock.
Chris Woakes (34, 45)
Has yet to appear in the Stokes/McCullum era, mostly due to fitness, and has an uncertain place in the pecking order after being stood down against Ireland. His most recent Test outings have been a struggle but he is a different prospect in home conditions and his batting would bolster the tail considerably.
Stuart Broad (36, 162)
Has already reprised his role as winder-up-in-chief by declaring the previous Ashes was “void” due to Covid-era restrictions. Despite that, and his playful reinvention as ‘the nighthawk’, his primary role is as a wicket-taker. Will be licking his lips at the idea of renewing his one-sided battle against David Warner and showing off his newly-minted outswinger.
Ollie Robinson (29, 16)
Arguably shaping up as the key man in the home attack – provided he can stay fit. His skills, control and consistency are improving all the time as he learns from Broad and James Anderson. An injury scare saw him kept in cotton wool during the Ireland Test, but after engaging in some pre-series fighting talk, he will be eager to get going at Edgbaston.
James Anderson (40, 179)
A groin injury on Lancashire duty saw the entire English cricketing fraternity fret over their ageless leader of the attack. Now 40, and preparing for his 10th Ashes series, he has issued reassuring statements about his readiness for the main event. Lethal when the ball is moving, impeccable in control when it isn’t, Anderson and his 685 wickets cannot be replaced.
Mark Wood (33, 28)
Earned Australia’s respect for his superb performances Down Under last time around, shining as his team crumbled. The fastest and fieriest of England’s genuine quicks and currently the fittest too. How and when England deploy him over the course of the series will be intriguing and potentially decisive to the outcome.
Matthew Potts (24, 6)
Proved himself a big-game hunter during his first summer as a Test cricketer, establishing dominance over Kane Williamson and then dismissing Virat Kohli in his first spell against the India great. Had to wait his turn during a frustrating winter campaign but a strong start with Durham ushered him back to the front of the queue against Ireland and his physical robustness is a welcome quality with niggles elsewhere.
Josh Tongue (25, 1)
Surprisingly selected to debut – to the delight of one Coral customer – ahead of the established Woakes last week, the Worcestershire man bagged a spot on the Lord’s honours board with a second-innings five-for. Managed to crank it up to 90mph and showed a willingness to bang out bouncers, he could be the primary beneficiary of injuries to Jofra Archer and Olly Stone.
Moeen Ali (35, 64)
Moeen has agreed to return to red-ball cricket for the first time in almost two years to fill the breach in the England Ashes squad caused by Leach’s back problem. The all-rounder has previously retired from Test cricket and turns 36 on day three of the first Test, which is at his home ground of Edgbaston. Moeen has 195 wickets and the small matter of five Test centuries. He is likely to bat at eight and give England a seriously dangerous lower order.
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