New coach Darren Lehmann and his brain’s trust have some choices to make tomorrow morning, with only skippper Michael Clarke, his vice Brad Haddin and the openers Shane Watson and Chris Rogers the guaranteed starters.
Michael Clarke (captain)
Age: 32 Tests: 92 Runs: 7275 Average: 52.33
A dodgy back and not much preparation, but was in good nick in last week’s tour match and simply must feature in this series for Australia to be a chance.
Brad Haddin (vice captain)
Age: 35 Tests: 44 Runs: 2308 Average: 35.50
Not even in the Test side, the experienced keeper was brought back as Clarke’s deputy. He’s scored two of his three Test tonnes against England and is the oldest in the squad. But with bat in hand he’s prone to brain farts and must show discipline with the bat.
Age: 26 Tests: 2 Wickets: 11 Average: 16.18
An understated gem in the Aussie squad, Bird could do a similar job as legend Glenn ‘Pigeon’ McGrath. Tight line and hardly express pace, he’s taken 11 wickets in two Tests so far.
Age: 31 Tests: 17 Runs: 987 Average: 32.90
Will miss out or be somewhere in the middle order, Cowan can do a job for Australia, as long as it doesn’t require scoring runs at a good click. Spent a good part of the season for Nottinghamshire though, so would be comfortable at the first Test venue.
Age: 23 Tests: 0
Would be a debutant and is a handy left-arm quick and not much worse off with the bat. Made more of a mark in Twenty20 cricket than the longer form of the game, but fearless and attacking.
Age: 33 Tests: 12 Wickets: 47 Average: 23.63
Another injury worry for Australia but if he can walk he’ll charge in like the Rhino of his nickname. At 33, he’s getting on but only made his Test debut at 29. Has been out of international cricket for a year.
Age: 32 Tests: 41 Runs: 2580 Average: 35.34 / Wickets: 62 Average: 30.00
Watson’s back at the top of the order where he said he wanted to be. He plays in the V and make the most of a hard, new ball. Needs to get out of his bad habit of getting a start and falling over. His reliable bowling and reverse swing ability are invaluable.
Age: 24 Tests: 24 Runs: 1452 Average: 33.00
England tore young Hughes a new one last time against England, first from Andrew Flintoff and then James Anderson. He got dumped, went back and bashed Sheffield Shied sides around and got his shot again. Evenful for a 24-year-old. Could start at number three.
Age: 26 Tests: 6 Runs: 263 Average: 29.22
Hasn’t played in a Baggy Green since his debut year of 2011, the Pakistani-born batsman’s results haven’t matched his classy style. Has looked good in domestic cricket and must surely find a big one soon.
Age: 25 Tests: 22 Wickets: 76 Average: 33.18
The former groundsman is seen as a weakness in the Aussie side. While he may not have the weapons of some spinners, selectors rate his temperament and ability to hold down an end. If ever anyone had something to prove.
Age: 23 Tests: 10 Wickets: 40 Average: 23.37
His brother played one Test for England, but this young firebrand is Australia’s spearhead. Young, brash and only 10 Tests into his career, he can be devastating when he stays on the pitch.
Age: 35 Tests: 1 Runs: 19 Average: 9.5
A rightful and deserving opener for Australia, playing in just his second Test after his first in 2008. The Middlesex skipper is the ideal, calm and calculated foil to his opening partner Watson. Early call from Lehmann that he’ll start must give confidence.
Age: 28 Tests: 41 Wickets: 150 Average: 28.84
An absolute warrior of a quick, it hasn’t seemed to be going the right way for Sids of late even though he’s the top-ranked bowler in the world for England or Australia. Mugs don’t take 150 wickets though, and he likes playing England too. He took 20 wickets in Australia’s loss in 2009.
Age: 24 Tests: 7 Runs: 420 Average: 32.30 / Wickets: 4 Average: 70.75
A batting all-rounder, Smith’s leggies could come in handy on a turner, but aren’t always effective. Bizarrely brought in as cover for Clarke, despite being unlikely to bat above six. Lehmann’s a fan.
Age: 23 Tests: 9 Wickets: 30 Average: 34.03
Big, strong, tall, left-handed, swings the ball into the right hander – dangerous. Will probably take the new ball with Pattinson and must be on the money if Australia is any chance to rattle through England’s top order.
Age: 26 Tests: 19 Runs: 1263 Average: 39.46
An X-factor if he lines up in the middle order, not at the top of the innings as he’d prefer after the early call from Lehmann that would be Rogers and Watson. Regardless of his boozy swing at Joe Root, has the ability to take a game away from a team in quick time.
Age: 25 Tests: 12 Runs: 623 Average: 34.61
The first choice keeper before the experience of Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting retired and selectors decided they wanted experience. A handy back-up to Haddin, and is at the very least the vice-captain’s equal with the bat.
England’s selectors have named 13 to take on the Aussies at Trent Bridge, with two seamers to be left out on the morning of the game.
Alistair Cook (Captain)
Age: 28 Tests: 92 Runs: 7524 Average: 49.17
Just as the Aussie skipper is their Mr Reliable, Captain Cook is for England. A calming force at the top of the order, Cook will look to wear down Australia’s mostly young line-up. His trouble with Trent Boult in New Zealand hasn’t gone unnoticed, so Mitchell Starc will be key for the visitors.
Age: 22 Tests: 6 Runs: 424 Average: 42.40
The baby-faced Yorkshireman proved his value in the series against New Zealand following a solid tour of India. Root has yet to prove himself as an opener, and with no space for Nick Compton there will be an immense pressure on the young man’s shoulders especially given his fellow opener’s modest scoring pace. Though Root’s inventive shot-making should make him an able foil to slow-and-steady Cook.
Age: 32 Tests: 43 Runs: 3451 Average: 50.01
England’s stand-out performer from the series agains the Black Caps. Trott came in for some undue criticism following his performances in the one-day games, where his strike rate was excellent. As tough as nut, a nudger and nurdler who keeps the scoreboard constantly ticking over and can break the resolve of a bowling attack. England will be looking to him to build innings.
Age: 33 Tests: 94 Runs: 7499 Average: 49.01
England’s middle-order destroyer is back. Following an operation KP has shown some excellent form, hitting an unbeaten 177 on his return to first class cricket this summer. As with anyone returning from injury there is always the threat of relapse, but England will be keeping their game changing batsman in cotton wool.
Age: 31 Tests: 88 Runs: 5925 Average: 45.57
Often touted as the most naturally talented of England’s batsman, Bell nevertheless has some annoying habits. If there’s a collapse underway he’s prone to join in and is coming into the series with mutterings that England’s middle order needs more mettle. Alternatively this could be his series.
Age: 23 Tests: 8 Runs: 341 Average: 31
Yet to notched his first test match century, the flashy Yorkshireman is as swashbuckling as they come. The young pretender to KP’s throne needs to prove he can stay at the crease. He may well be called upon to change the course of an innings and coming in before Matt Prior England are showing immense faith in the 23-year-old.
Matt Prior (wicketkeeper)
Age: 31 Tests: 67 Runs: 3680 Average: 44.33
England’s unsung hero. Prior has been the three Lion’s most consistent performer for much of the last three years. Rock-steady with the gloves and saviour of more English innings than any other batsman. He rarely gets out cheaply, scores quickly and is a steadying influence on the field.
Age: 34 Tests: 52 Runs: 1208 Average: 23.23
England, and maybe the world’s, leading spinner is sure to have a central role in this year’s Ashes. The Aussie batsman will be studying him intently and he’ll have to work hard for his wickets. Despite being handy with the willow, he’ll be hoping to keep those precious digits out of harm’s way.
Age: 27 Tests: 57 Runs: 1676 Average: 24.64 Wickets: 195
Broad is a form bowler; if he gets a couple of wickets he’s liable to go on and get a five-for. Following his 169 against Pakistan in 2010 many in the game expected Broad to go on to become a fully-fledged all-rounder. It hasn’t happened. Most England fans will be content if he takes wickets.
Age: 24 Tests: 22 Runs: 167 Average: 12.38 Wickets: 88
The 6’7″ bowler has established himself as a key prong of England’s multifaceted attack. How he’ll bear up physically under the pressure of a long series is yet to be seen. Expect him to perhaps be rested for a couple of the latter tests.
Age: 30 Tests: 82 Runs: 751 Average: 10.72 Wickets: 307
The king of swing, Anderson is essential to England’s attack. A devastating opening bowler who can rip through any top order in the world. He’s gaining a fearsome reputation and with another great Ashes series could put himself in bracket with Warne, McGrath and Botham, as an immortal of the series.
Age: 28 Tests: 18 Runs: 438 Average: 31.28 Wickets: 57
England’s only true all-rounder, Bresnan was cruelly robbed of a first class century in a warm up game that lost its first class rating halfway through. The bustling bowler reacts well under pressure and has a habit of picking up wickets at important times.
Age: 30 Tests: 9 Runs: 30 Average: 10 Wickets 32
Onions’ stop-start test career will no doubt give this dangerous Durham seamer the fire to take any opportunity he’s given. A constant thorn in any batsman’s side and with Ashes experience Onions will be an able stand-in for any of the seam attack.