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Australia v England

The race for an Ashes berth: How England’s fringe batters are faring

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Reports suggest that this winter’s Ashes series is under serious threat, and even if does go ahead, England are likely to take an enlarged squad, and possibly even one without several first choice players.

This has the potential to open the door for a number of fringe players to gain a place in England’s Ashes squad to go along with definite (or, as definite as they can be in this day and age) picks Joe Root, Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali.

So, which names could find their way into potential selection for the upcoming tour?

Recently dropped

What will likely be an enlarged squad takes out some of the jeopardy of selection, as players who would otherwise have been culled will remain in the squad and therefore with a more immediate path back into the side.

In this criteria are the likes of Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence. All of whom you’d expect to be on the plane if not in the eleven. Perhaps the most likely to play of the three is Crawley, who has been tipped on numerous occasions to have a technique that would be well suited to Australia. Dan Lawrence is currently behind Pope and Bairstow in the pecking order for the final middle order spot, but if history has told us anything, it’s that in England you’re only ever ten feet away from a rat and two matches away from batting five for your country.

James Bracey’s return to the Gloucestershire set-up hasn’t yielded the thousands of runs that would have been required for him to have remained in contention and it’s currently hard to see a way back into the international set-up for him at this point in time.

Former favourites

James Vince‘s name is never far from the lips of England fans. His problem has never been a lack of quality but a lack of quantity, however if there’s a single spot left in the squad and England wanted to rely on someone who they know could plug a gap if needed he remains that man. Sam Robson has also had a good season, scoring career best 253 against a young Sussex side a few weeks ago. However, it would be a big surprise if he were to receive a call-up.

New toys

Everyone likes a new player to pin their hopes on. A number of players this year have had strong county seasons if not banging the door down and cementing their place as England’s new great batting hope. Tom Haines was the first to pass 1000 runs and has led an incredibly young Sussex side at the (compared to many of his teammates) ancient age of 22. Josh Bohannon is also a name that will continue to pop up as a player of increasing competence. He now averages 47.52 from more than 30 first-class games. Expect him to be with the England Lions at least if their tour of Australia goes ahead. Other names include Harry Brook who has had a breakthrough year with the white-ball and scored an impressive 118 against Somerset in a game where only one other player made it to 50. Jake Libby has also had an impressive year, averaging 55.27 and being five runs short of reaching a 1000 for the season.

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