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Five players unlucky to miss out on England’s Ashes squad

Yas Rana by Yas Rana
@Yas_Wisden 2 minute read

Chris Silverwood today revealed a 17-man squad for this winter’s Ashes series, a group of players featuring precisely zero uncapped players.

The squad, derided by some for its predictability and lack of imagination, features 17 players who have all played Test cricket for England at some point this year.

As always, there will be some players who may feel particularly unfortunate to miss out. England will soon announced a Lions squad that will travel to Australia alongside the main Test group so there is still every chance that the players mentioned below feature in a Test at some point on tour.

Matt Parkinson

Probably the most unfortunate on this list not to make the cut. With the odd exception, finger spinners have struggled in Australia in recent years and while England might be scarred by previous experiences of young English leggies in Australia, none were in the same league as Parkinson who finishes the 2021 English summer with 36 wickets at 20.55. Instead, England have plumped for the conventional off-breaks of Dom Bess, who enjoyed a decent but unspectacular red-ball summer with Yorkshire.

Dom Sibley

By the end of the season, Sibley looked to have regained some of the form that seem to have deserted him earlier in the summer, registering, weirdly, six scores between 45 and 57 in the last five games of the first-class summer. It’s easy to write off Sibley. With that ungainly technique he rarely looks at total ease at the crease and when he’s out of nick, he appears totally lost at sea, but it’s worth bearing in mind that he did a pretty good job for his first year or so in the England team.

Sibley’s first-class average and strike-rate are both higher than Haseeb Hameed’s equivalent figures; he also has 10 more first-class hundreds than Zak Crawley. If the tour were to start badly for one (or more) of England’s top order options, you’d have thought that Sibley would have been a reasonably safe player to have in reserve. He is also the only top-order option with any sort of first-class success in Australia, having scored a hundred for England Lions in their win over Australia A at the MCG last winter.

Ben Foakes

Not for the first time in his career, Foakes is be left wondering what he’s done wrong to miss out on selection. A freak injury in May robbed him of a first home Test against New Zealand and kept him out for the majority of the summer. He is now, once again, behind Jonny Bairstow in the pecking order, a man who hasn’t passed 60 in his last 34 Test innings.

Saqib Mahmood

Not unlike the 2017-18 cohort, England’s seam attack is very same-y. Aside from Mark Wood, Silverwood has selected a group of right-armers who generally operate between 78 and 85 miles per hour. Mahmood is not markedly quicker than that but he is a bowler who hurries good batters and demonstrated, albeit in ODI cricket, earlier this year that he can threaten some of the very best.

AN Other

There wasn’t anything egregious about any of Silverwood’s picks. He stuck with the group of players that he’s used for the majority of his tenure, resisting the temptation of any wildcard selections. Which is all good, reasonable and sensible. Except, stability isn’t exactly a virtue worth extolling when your side has won just one of their last nine Tests and just one, yes one, of the nine selected batters averages more than 35 in Test cricket.

No one would have begrudged Silverwood if he looked at the players in front of him, decided that he needed more and took a punt on someone like a Liam Livingstone or a James Vince or a Joe Clarke.

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