With the Ashes now just over three weeks away from starting let’s look at both sides to see who would make a combined Ashes XI based on the likely make ups of the teams for the first Test.
Looking back to his best after some very indifferent form over the past 12 months, Cook has just surpassed Graham Gooch to become the all-time leading run scorer for England.
His footwork is back, and he seems to have remembered where his off stump is, leaving the balls he was nicking not long ago. Have to pick him ahead of Chris Rogers.
Warner and Cook are the stand-out openers from the two countries. Adam Lyth is likely to be playing in just his third Test match, while Warner is an established star in all forms of the game.
Australia will be looking to him to get them off to a fast start and put the English bowlers on the back foot from ball one.
What a player Smith has become. From once looking technically fragile, he has established himself as the captain-in-waiting for the baggy greens. He doesn’t look like getting out at the moment and certainly has the edge over Gary Ballance at three.
Michael Clarke (c)
Ian Bell’s poor recent form is a massive worry for England and makes this choice easier than it would have been otherwise. Clarke is a proven performer and has had periods where he held Australia together seemingly on his own. By far a better captain than Cook.
Root has come a long way since getting punched by Warner prior to the last Ashes series in England, becoming the lynchpin of the side and comfortably the most consistent batsman. Is way ahead of either Adam Voges or Shaun Marsh.
This may be a controversial choice of all-rounder over Shane Watson, but Stokes has that x-factor about him and seems to make things happen when his team needs him most. Watson is the great underachiever in the Australian side.
Jos Buttler has been a revelation since taking over from Matt Prior behind the stumps, averaging over 50. However Haddin is a proven performer for the Aussies, and it is difficult to leave him out given his long record and better keeping.
He destroyed the English batting line up in the last Ashes, with his fearsome pace striking fear into the opposition. His virtual all-round status makes him impossible not to pick.
The English won’t be keen on seeing him running in, they are still having nightmares from the last series.
The complete lack of a genuine spinner in the England team makes this probably the easiest selection of the lot. It is no doubt the weakest area of both teams, with Lyon hardly being a world beater, but Moeen Ali’s part-time spin won’t be keeping anyone awake at night.
Now England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, after surpassing the great Ian Botham in the recent series against New Zealand. A master of swing bowling with his ability to swing it both ways, he is especially dangerous in his own country. A lot will be riding on his performance if England are going to win the series.
Despite his propensity to get injured, Harris is the leader of the Aussie attack. You won’t find a bigger heart in world cricket and his ability to find a magic ball can turn a game. England will be hoping he doesn’t last the series.
Well that’s seven Aussie’s and four Englishmen in the combined XI. Let us know your thoughts below.