With the Ashes First Test just a few days away, all eyes are on which England players will make the cut for the opener against Australia.
Here, we look at an XI that can lead England to glory this summer:
Cook is the captain and most consistent performer of the English team. A prolific opening batsmen with a huge desire to score big runs. He has outstanding levels of concentration and can bat for hours without giving his wicket away. Lethal on the back-foot and an ever improving player and captain Cook's performances are integral for a successful England team.
An extremely talented young man who never seems stressed. Root has emerged as the most talented young batsmen in the country and has impressed both in test and one day cricket for England in recent months. His international career has so far been in the middle-order but he is an opening batsmen by trade. He has now been chosen as the partner to Cook at the top of the innings and looks set for a fantastic career.
Mr reliable. Trott goes out and gets runs almost every time he plays. He is so consistent and is someone you can rely on to dig in and score runs when the going gets tough. He is fantastic on the leg side and doesn't appear to have a particular weakness that opposition can look to exploit. Trott has been a revelation in the England team and averaged over 50 in both Test and One Day cricket which is only also achieved by Hashim Amla.
Pietersen is the X factor of the batting line-up. He can change the course of a game in a session. He can destroy bowling line-ups and on his day has bowlers quivering in their boots. Extreme confidence combined with an entertainers personality creates an exceptional player that people love to watch. He is England's best batsmen and looks in imperious form ahead of the Ashes following his remarkable 177 not out for Surrey in his first match since recovering from injury.
Bell is the most aesthetically pleasing batsmen. Text-book technique and a real coming of age over recent years has created a top batsmen who's best years look ahead of him. Bell has shown that he can now be relied on to score runs in difficult times and can make big runs. Bell is now one of the senior players in the team and will look to show some of the younger players how it is done.
A wicketkeeper-batsmen by trade Bairstow finds his place in the team at number 6 as a batsmen alone. Bairstow has come into the team following the decision to drop Nick Compton. Bairstow is a talented young batsmen who scores very quickly and can move a game on quickly. Bairstow is short of time at the crease and would have preferred to have longer to hone his skills but he will be fully confident that he will perform on the biggest stage.
Prior is quite simply the best wicket-keeper batsmen in the world currently. A reliable keeper who grabs on to pretty much everything and an exciting batsmen he is a key ingredient to England's success over recent years. Prior scores runs at a fantastic rate and often pushes England totals from good scores to excellent ones. A world class player!
Broad is a fiery character with a real desire for success. A pacey bowler who can also chip in with more than handy runs down the order. Broad is a tall, skilful bowler who on his day is unplayable. Broad has spells where he destroys batting line-ups. He can be inconsistent at times but seems to be on top form and will be a major part of a great bowling line-up.
Swann is the best spin bowler in the world. A highly confident and likeable man with huge talent. Swann can turn the ball square and poses problems for both left and right handers. Swann will be key to England winning the Ashes and stands head and shoulders above any spinner that the Aussie's have. He is a match-winner and I expect big things from Swann this summer.
Anderson along with South African Dale Steyn is the best fast bowler in the world. Anderson is an amazingly skilled bowler who can swing the ball both ways with no real change of action. He has fantastic control of the cricket ball and is the leader of the attack. Anderson looks set to be England's leading ever wicket taker in test cricket if he continues as he is. An inspirational bowler who will exploit anything that a pitch has to offer.
Finn is the most hostile of England's bowlers. Tall and quick he provides a slightly different task for batsmen than the other England bowlers. He hits the deck hard and can have batsmen in real trouble trying to deal with his bounce. Finn is a wicket-taking bowler but can prove expensive. He is an ever improving young bowler and for me will go on to be one of the best bowlers in world cricket.
England's team is full of talent, determination and the experience to win the Ashes both home and away and I expect them to do so. Australia will up their performances and prove to be a tougher opposition than some are stating but England just look a better team with a better first 11 and better options should they be requited. Back-up players such as Bresnan, Onion, Tremlett, Compton, Taylor and Tredwell are all quality operators who would come in and do a good job. I expect the series to finish 3-1 to England.
The anticipation for this most hostile of cricket rivalries is building and next Wednesday thousands will be watching as we go to war with the old enemy!
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