Who would want to be an England selector at the moment?
They were bound to receive criticism for their selections for the forthcoming Ashes series Down Under as they are unable to take everyone on tour.
It was always going to be a tough call as England are restricted to a squad of 17 and with many players competing for so few places it was always going to be a tough call.
One positive to take from the selection process is that England have a large pool of quality cricketers to choose from - a notion unheard of on quite a few tours Down Under in the past.
There are bound to be winners and losers, as there always are.
Below I try to pick out the main protagonists...
Michael Carberry - Uncapped in Test cricket the Hampshire opener has had a very successful season with Hampshire, particularly in one-day cricket. I don’t see him as ousting either Cook or Root at the top of the order but he is a versatile batsman with a lot to offer at international level. Perhaps fortunate to get the nod in front of Nick Compton, he is highly thought of by Shane Warne and clearly by England.
Gary Ballance - The left-handed Yorkshireman will have been one of the surprise inclusions in the squad but he is highly thought of around the county scene and another to have graduated through the impressive Yorkshire ranks. He may well be going to Australia just for the experience but if he performs well in the warm-up games he could force his way into the starting eleven. Once he gets his chance I fully expect him to take it and I can see him being a regular for his country for years to come.
Ben Stokes - Another who has impressed during the recent one-day series with Australia. He is a very talented all-rounder who can certainly develop into a Test match all-rounder. Stokes will need to avoid injury for a sustained period of time as this has hampered his development but again the England selectors have proven themselves to be consistent in sticking with players they have clearly ear-marked for success. In Stokes' case I fully expect their decision to be warranted.
Jonny Bairstow - England's selectors are very keen on giving players a greater chance to succeed in recent years. Bairstow has reaped the rewards from this. He has struggled to score runs consistently at Test match level and his technical flaws were exposed by the Aussies recently. He may well miss out on a starting spot for the Three Lions when the First Test in Brisbane starts but he is the designated second keeper in the squad which will give him ample opportunity to prove his worth in the warm-up games. Perhaps fortunate to be on the plane but his prowess behind the stumps may well have tipped the balance in his favour.
Boyd Rankin - The tall Irish opening bowler has been earmarked as a Test match player and was given every chance to prove his worth during the recent one-day series with Australia. His decision to leave Ireland and concentrate on his county career with Warwickshire has paid dividends. His stature will have given him the added edge with Australian wickets providing more bounce and pace than their English counterparts. He may well become a crucial member of the team particularly if injuries take hold of England's front line bowlers on what can be a very demanding tour.
Nick Compton - What can you say about Compton? He has done nothing wrong in an England shirt yet finds himself wondering whether he will ever represent his country again. When asked to perform at County level he has done so and despite very good performances in New Zealand last summer he was dropped from the team in favour of Joe Root. I don’t see any way back for Compton particularly with Carberry seemingly above him in the selectors eyes.
Chris Woakes - Not even selected in the performance squad, Woakes will be highly disappointed. He is still only young but this must be a huge blow for him particularly as he played a part in the recent Ashes series. England are restricted on who they can take to Australia so it was probably a straight fight between him and Ben Stokes with Stokes' superior batting probably proving the winner. He is still a bright young talent but will need close supervision after this blow.
Graham Onions - Very unfortunate to miss out. He has been the best county bowler all season and no one can doubt his qualities. He has constantly been waiting in the wings for his opportunity and during any other era he would have played many more Tests for England. I believe he has only been overtaken very recently by Boyd Rankin due to the Irishman's performances in the ODIs and the fact that his height may well prove to be crucial Down Under.
James Tredwell - Despite Monty Panesar's lack of form and off-field indiscretions he still gets the nod in front of Tredwell who has served England well in the one-day format of the game. However, most commentators on the game rightly say that Panesar is the second best spinner in England and being on tour may well help him overcome the distractions that have clearly affected him. Young Simon Kerrigan still has a lot to learn in the game so Tredwell is still probably third in line should injuries strike.
Who would you like to have seen on the plane to Australia and who would you like to have been left behind? Please comment.
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