England’s Ashes Squad announced!

Australia’s batsmen were left in little doubt as to what they can expect this winter when England announced their Ashes squad earlier today

Chris Tremlett (6’8”), Boyd Rankin (6’7”) Steven Finn (6’7”) and Stuart Broad (6’5”), all capable of hitting the deck hard at 90mph and more, have been included and that’s along with James Anderson, not so fast as that quartet, but fast enough and with the guile and skill to justify Coral’s 15/8 quote as leading English wicket-taker.

Not all of them can play in the same match of course and it is probably going to be a case of Broad and Anderson and one or two of the others, depending on the conditions, but it is a clear statement of intent by the selectors that they will fight fire with fire when the Aussie pace attack inevitably gets quick and nasty with Alastair Cook’s boys.

England, 3-1 up in the last Ashes series Down Under and 3-0 winners here this summer, are even money with Coral to bring the little urn back to Blighty with Australia on 13/8 (9/2 the draw). The Baggy Greens went home a lot more optimistic than when they arrived, despite failing to win a game, and there were indeed growing signs throughout the campaign that they would be capable of making much more of a contest of it next time.

So there’s little talk of an England whitewash now. England are 33/1 to win 5-0 with Coral, who rate a 2-1 or 3-1 (both 7/1) series victory much more likely. But it promises to be a thriller; a 2-2 draw is 6/1 favourite.

England have picked three new caps: Rankin, Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes (who can also bowl at 90mph) and exciting Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance. Monty Panesar is preferred to James Tredwell as second spinner, while Michael Carberry is picked head of Nick Compton as stand-by opener. There are no places for Ravi Bopara, James Taylor or Graham Onions, who must be wondering just what he has to do to get back into the squad.

With the core of the England side pretty much settled, players like Ballance (20/1 to be series top scorer) and Carberry (11/1) are likely to find their opportunities limited, but you never know. The Zimbabwean-born Ballance has been prolific in all forms of the game this summer and might well break through if one of the usual guard struggles.

But Cook, who took Australia apart on his last visit, relishes the conditions and is a worthy 3/1 favourite to top score for England again, despite a less than impressive home series with the bat.

Written by Jon Freeman