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Ashes 2023

Cummins or Broad? Who’s at No.3? Wisden’s Team of the 2023 Ashes

Usman Khawaja, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

The 2023 Ashes series reached a thrilling conclusion at the Kia Oval, as Stuart Broad took the final two Australia wickets late on day five to ensure the series finished 2-2. Here’s Wisden’s combined team of the series.

All but one of the matches in the series finished on the final day and aside from the draw at Old Trafford, all were won by three wickets or less, or less than 50 runs. It all adds up to an exceptionally close Ashes series, potentially the closest-ever.

While many players stood out for singular performances, few stand out consistently across the series, meaning there were some tough calls in the TOTS selection. Here’s how the final XI lines up.


Usman Khawaja

The leading run-scorer across the series, Khawaja was imperious on his vindicating return to England. Before Edgbaston, he averaged 19.66 in England in six Tests since 2013. His series average in 2023 stands at 49.6 with one hundred and three fifties. Khawaja was a thorn in England’s side from innings one, and was the architect in chief of Australia’s ice on fire approach. He faced 1,263 balls in the series, almost double second on that list, Marnus Labuschagne (698).

Zak Crawley

Few would have predicted before the series that Crawley would finish as England’s leading run scorer. He came into the series under a selection cloud, his technique, temperament and confidence firmly under the scanner. From the first ball of the series there were signs he was beginning to hit his stride, that crashing drive through the covers straight in near the top on many people’s Ashes moment’s list. Although he didn’t completely throw off his demons until his magnificent innings in Manchester, he played an important role for England before then. He and Ben Duckett set the tone for England time after time, a few rash shots in there but still enablers of their approach. At the Kia Oval, his 70 was crucial to setting the target England did.

Steve Smith

Smith was one of the more marginal selections in this XI. While he scored yet another century at Lord’s, he wasn’t the immovable presence he’s been in England previously. The only other time he was able to pass fifty was in Australia’s losing effort in the fifth Test. At 34, Smith’s chance for an Ashes series win in England might have slipped away. He gets into the side through a lack of solid representation at No.3 elsewhere, although Duckett and Moeen Ali were possible contenders for his spot.

Joe Root

Root’s series figures could have looked even better if it weren’t for a couple of nasty dismissals in the final two Tests. He got one that kept exceptionally low from Josh Hazlewood on 84 at Old Trafford and a similar one from Todd Murphy on 91 at the Kia Oval. His century at Edgbaston saw the full array of Rootisms, the late cut through third-man, a masterclass in sweeping and was followed by  a reverse-scoop off the first ball of the day.

Although his batting alone deserves his spot in the side, his bowling was also pivotal. He looked England’s most threatening bowler on the evening of day four in Manchester, and took two wickets in the first innings in South London when Moeen Ali was unable to bowl. Lord’s was the only Test in this series where Root didn’t take a wicket, and his total of seven for the series is more than James Anderson.

Harry Brook

After a quiet start to the series, Brook found his rhythm in explosive fashion at Headingley. Having been part of the hook-shot brigade at Lord’s, he found the perfect balance between attack and conservation in Leeds ensure the series remained alive. The only check missing from his series record is a century after he passed fifty four times. While several England batters can take the plaudits for their second innings at the Kia Oval, his 85 was a lone stand in seeing they weren’t rolled in their first.

Ben Stokes (c)

There are so many moving parts to Stokes’ series. While he should be celebrated for his overall approach to captaincy, there were individual decisions that bear scrutiny. The decision to declare at Edgbaston and the selection of aging fast-bowling attacks late in the series mostly. But his innings at Lord’s, albeit in a loss, should go down as arguably his second finest. That he got England close to winning that Test when they had no right to is extraordinary. His 80 in the first innings at Headingley was another superhuman effort there and there was a half-century in Manchester. He found himself in a new place this series, unable to bowl and provide the balance to the team he usually does. But his importance to what’s made this series so watchable secures his place in the side.

Jonny Bairstow (wk)

Bairstow was another marginal decision. His keeping was under the spotlight right up until Manchester and had England lost this series, Bairstow’s glovework would have been a key factor. But some exceptional grabs in the final two Tests and some genuine Bairstow-specials with the bat down the order keep him in contention. While Alx Carey’s glovework was superior and far more consistent, he finished the series with a batting average of 22.22. In the argument of pick your best keeper or the batter who catches the best, Bairstow’s late charge in the series carried through the latter.

Chris Woakes

As with Wood, Woakes’ impact on this series in indelible. He played three matches, won two and finished as the Player of the Series. Had Broad not cleaned up the final two wickets in its final throes, he could well have finished as England’s leading wicket-taker. As is, he has the best average (18.14) of anyone in the series, and has given us a feel-good come-back story to savour. His contribution with the bat also shouldn’t be forgotten – he hit the winning runs in the Headingley Test and allowed England to go in with four specialist seamers to counter Stokes’ injury.

Mitchell Starc

Starc is the only Australia bowler to make the side. It was a rough tour for the travelling seamers, who all took punishment from England’s aggression with the bat. No Australia seamer finishes the series with an economy rate below four, Starc included. But he does finish as the leading wicket-taker across both sides. He kept Australia in the game until the bitter end at Headingley, and cleaned up at the Kia Oval. By far Australia’s best bowler.

Mark Wood

Wood’s inclusion was a turning point in the series. His spell at Headingley was awesome for it’s pace and accuracy, an injection of freshness in a tiring attack. Although his speeds were down by the end of the series, it’s not an exaggeration that without him and Chris Woakes, England would not have come back. His 14 wickets put him in the top six wicket-takers in the series, despite bowling significantly less overs than those above him.

Stuart Broad

Although his sense of occasion and magic gave the series the scintillating finish it deserved, Broad was the closest of selection calls in this side. Pat Cummins was his competitor, with his performances with bat and ball in both second innings’ at Edgbaston exceptional. He also bowled better than his figures would suggest at the Kia Oval. However, Broad was England’s leading wicket-taker when the rest of their attack wasn’t firing. He also bowled an exceptional spell on the last day of the series. After Wood’s at Headingley it was arguably the best of the series. A fittingly Broadian end to his remarkable career.

Wisden’s Team of the 2023 Ashes

  1. Usman Khawaja
  2. Zak Crawley
  3. Steve Smith
  4. Joe Root
  5. Harry Brook
  6. Ben Stokes (c)
  7. Jonny Bairstow (wk)
  8. Chris Woakes
  9. Mitchell Starc
  10. Mark Wood
  11. Stuart Broad

You can bet on the 2023 Ashes with our Match Centre partners, bet365.

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