Countdown to the Ashes

2009 Ashes Series

First of all, it is worth mentioning the disappointment of losing the series in West Indies. England fell just short of victory in the final Test as the West Indies managed to bat out the final session with just two wickets remaining.

This meant that despite England declaring five times in the series, the West Indies won 1-0 to leave every England fan frustrated. The declaration on the final day has received criticism, but this was just one of many mistakes that cost Andrew Strauss’ men the series.

However, there is no point lamenting what has gone on in the past few weeks. Instead, let us look forward to the English summer. First up for England is another Test series against the West Indies, but after that it is the Ashes series against Australia.

What will England’s team be for the first Test match against the Aussies though? A lot can happen between now and then, but a bit of speculation never hurt anybody.

1. Alistair Cook – certainty.
2. Andrew Strauss – certainty.
3. Ian Bell – possibly.
4. Kevin Pietersen – certainty.
5. Paul Collingwood – certainty.
6. Andrew Flintoff – certainty, fitness permitting.
7. Matt Prior – certainty, just.
8. Stuart Broad – certainty.
9. Graeme Swann – possibly.
10. Simon Jones – possibly.
11. James Anderson – probably.

I won’t bother going through the players who barring injury or a drastic loss of form that I consider to be certain of a place. Each of them has done enough in the most recent series or in the past to make it a fair assumption that they will be in the side for the majority of the summer.

What of the others though? Let’s go through them.

Ian Bell – The number three slot is up for grabs and if Bell finds form for Warwickshire in the early part of the summer, he could get another chance. Other Candidates – Michael Vaughan, Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara.

Graeme Swann – The off-spinner was fantastic in India and the West Indies and deserves to keep his place. He offers something in the field and with the bat as well. He could be England’s ‘Giles of 2005’ this summer.
Other Candidates – Monty Panesar and Adil Rashid.

Simon Jones – This is probably the least likely, but Jones has declared himself fit for the start of the summer. If he stays fit and takes wickets, why not give him a go? England’s bowling line up needs something extra.
Other Candidates – Ryan Sidebottom, Steve Harmison, Amjad Khan.

James Anderson – Jimmy will probably get the nod. The only reason he won’t is if he is ineffective against the West Indies or if England really do fancy a fresh bowling line-up.
Other candidates – who knows? Anyone who shows some form! Darren Pattinson?!

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about England cricket

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