The ECB have announced a 17-man Ashes squad to tour Australia this winter with the uncapped Boyd Rankin joining all-rounder Ben Stokes and middle order batsman Gary Ballance in an exciting squad.
There are six players in total who are included despite not featuring against Australia in the 3-0 success this summer. Michael Carberry, Monty Panesar and Chris Tremlett join the uncapped trio with a number of high profile players left out.
Tim Bresnan is struggling with the stress fracture of his back he picked up before the Oval Test Match and misses out on selection along with impressive bowler Graham Onions and opening batsman Nick Compton. Bresnan will travel with England to maximise his rehab opportunities and he could be added to the squad if he proves his fitness.
Captain Alastair Cook will once again lead his country with the opening Test starting on November 21st in Brisbane with nine players almost guaranteed to start thanks to an impressive series victory this summer.
Cook, Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, man of the series Ian Bell and Matt Prior are all established in the current Test team with only two spots realistically open for competition for the opening Test.
The number six spot could be up for grabs which was occupied by Jonathan Bairstow for the majority of 2013 apart from the fifth and final Test where Chris Woakes was selected, Woakes misses out on the touring party. Yorkshire batsman Balance will be challenging Bairstow for that berth.
With Bresnan absent Panesar, Tremlett, Finn, Rankin and all-rounder Stokes will battle it out for one spot with Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann set to lead the attack for Andy Flower’s men.
Carberry has been capped once at Test level, making his debut in Bangladesh in 2010. Panesar has already won 48 Test caps in his seven year international career, the last of which was against New Zealand in Auckland earlier this year. Surrey pace bowler Chris Tremlett, who took 17 wickets in the 2010/11 Ashes series in Australia, will be hoping to add to his 11 Test caps.
England are looking to win a fourth Ashes series in a row, a feat that has not been achieved by an England team since 1890.
The England selectors have also announced a 16-man England Performance Programme (EPP) squad. The England Performance Programme will spend a period training at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough followed by a month in Australia.
National selector Geoff Miller is more than confident this 17-man squad have the skill to beat Australia.
“We are fully aware that the Ashes series will once again be fiercely contested and that this squad will need to work extremely hard and play to a very high level to retain the Ashes and we believe we have selected a squad capable of doing just that,” admitted Miller.
“As we have seen in previous series we will need all members of the squad ready to step up and make vital contributions throughout the five Tests and we feel that all 17 players have the ability to do that. There is real competition for places with both bat and ball and we feel that we have provided Andy Flower and Alastair Cook with a well balanced squad.
“Tim Bresnan has not been named in the squad and is continuing his recovery from a stress fracture in his back. He will travel to Australia with the squad to maximise his rehab opportunities with the medical team and coaches who will monitor his progress.
“The England Performance Programme provides an excellent opportunity for those
players identified as having considerable talent to train together in an England environment throughout the winter and further develop as cricketers and this is an exciting young squad who have impressed in domestic cricket recently.”
“The time spent at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough and Australia allows our coaches to work intensively with the players and assess their readiness to graduate to the full England side when the opportunity arises.
"Gary Ballance, Boyd Rankin and Ben Stokes have all come through the EPP in recent years and have put in strong performances for their counties and England teams to earn an opportunity to step into the Test environment.”
Alastair Cook (Essex) (Capt)
Matt Prior (Sussex) (VC)
James Anderson (Lancashire)
Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire)
Gary Ballance (Yorkshire)
Ian Bell (Warwickshire)
Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire)
Michael Carberry (Hampshire)
Steven Finn (Middlesex)
Monty Panesar (Sussex/Essex)
Kevin Pietersen (Surrey)
Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire)
Joe Root (Yorkshire)
Ben Stokes (Durham)
Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire)
Chris Tremlett (Surrey)
Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)
England Performance Programme Squad:
Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Danny Briggs (Hampshire), Jos Buttler (Somerset), Varun Chopra (Warwickshire), Ben Foakes (Essex), James Harris (Middlesex), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Simon Kerrigan (Lancashire), Alex Lees (Yorkshire), Tymal Mills (Essex), Jamie Overton* (Somerset), Sam Robson (Middlesex), Reece Topley (Essex), James Vince (Hampshire), David Willey (Northamptonshire), Mark Wood* (Durham)
*To remain in the UK and specialise in strength and conditioning with the PEPP programme at the NCPC.