The Ashes 2023 Team Guide – England

Ben Stoke's dream run with Bazball will face the most stringent test in this Ashes.

The Ashes 2023 Team Guide – England
Dillip Mohanty

Written by: Dillip Mohanty

(Sports Editor)

Last updated: 2023-06-15

Who are the English team?

Finally, that time of the year is upon us when cricket’s most classic rivalry battles it out in 5 gritty Test matches to claim the coveted Ashes urn. The series will also kick start the new cycle of the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25. The hosts England have warmed up well with their domestic season undergoing in its prime. All the players have good match practice either in the County Championship, T20 Blast or the one-off Test played against Ireland.

This will also be a brilliant test for the new England leadership group playing their first Ashes series with Ben Stokes as Test skipper and Brendon McCullum as the specialist Test coach. The team has performed considerably well with the term ‘Bazball’ doing the rounds all over the cricketing world. Though the coach declines using that word within the group but the impact his leadership skills has put on the group is tremendous and is well reflected in the results.

England had won only a solitary Test out of 17 before McCullum replaced Chris Silverwood as the head coach, a move orchestrated by managing director of men’s cricket and former international Rob Key. The tide has changed so massively that England have won 11 of the next 13 Tests and are playing result-oriented cricket no matter the conditions or the match situation. The increased run rate and intensity on all days of play is another massive movement. The 11 wins include a 3-0 drubbing of Pakistan in Pakistan, winning a series there after almost 21 years.

Eight players have made their Test debuts since and have made considerable impact for the team in some way or the other. This is the kind of impact that the coach-captain duo has brought. A necessary change which has changed the attitude in the group eventually resulting in wins from any situation. The backing the batters get to go out and look for runs has helped them score more and score freely without even bothering about their spots eventually creating a positive dressing room environment. The upcoming Ashes adventure at home will be both a challenge and an opportunity to continue what the team has been doing since the past one year.

England squad for the first two Ashes Tests: Ben Stokes (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Dan Lawrence, Ollie Pope, Matthew Potts, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Josh Tongue, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

A strong team has been picked for the marquee series with not too much changes from the last few Tests. The only surprising pick is the inclusion of allrounder Moeen Ali who had retired from the longest format in 2021 and hasn’t since played red ball cricket. A lower back stress fracture to premium left arm spinner Jack Leach during the Test against Ireland forced the management to dip into their spin reserves but they were tempted to offer the role to none other than Moeen Ali which displays the lack of backup spinning options despite some names doing well in County Championships, for England Lions and on overseas tours as the likes of Rehan Ahmed, Will Jacks and Amar Virdi performing well on given occasions.

After attempts to break the experienced partnership of Stuart Broad and James Anderson not going England’s way, the selectors have decided to persist with the combination reaping rewards time and again. Watching the 40-year old Anderson bowl is like poetry in motion and the legendary pacer is still bowling dozens of overs for his team and taking wickets whenever the team wants. Sitting at 685 Test wickets, he is well supported by Stuart Broad who is ageing like fine wine having recently picked up his 20th five-wicket haul in the Test against Ireland.

The pace battery has many other options as well in the form of Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Josh Tongue, Chris Woakes and Matthew Potts. Potts and Tongue made their Test debuts under Stokes and have impressed with their spells with Tongue having recently made his debut at Lord’s against Ireland registering his name on the honour’s board with a fifer. Ollie Robinson has shown his wicket taking capability in the 16 opportunities received since his debut in 2021 with Mark Wood charging down the track with his quick deliveries and bouncers. Chris Woakes is a name which has time and again featured around the line-up but has only featured in 45 Tests almost making his debut a decade back against the same opposition.

In the batting department the only sign of concern is some inconsistent batting from Zak Crawley at the top of the order but the coach is backing him to good effect with consistent opportunities. He will have Ben Duckett as his opening partner who recently played his first home Test and hit a ton against Ireland. Jonny Bairstow made his return in the same Test and looked fit behind the stumps after missing international cricket for around ten months due to a massive injury in his left leg. He didn’t bat in that Test but has enough runs behind his back for Yorkshire and its second XI in the build-up for his comeback.

Ollie Pope has been appointed as the vice-captain despite his dismal form against the Aussie in the previous Ashes but since being promoted at number 3, his batting average and strike rate has shot up to 49.8 and 78 respectively. The team also has the services of one of the latest recruits in Harry Brook who is averaging 81.8 with the bat slamming 4 hundreds and 3 fifties in 11 Test innings. Along with the young lads come the experience laden former skipper Joe Root in the form of his life enjoying the new and a touch aggressive batting role in whites. Getting rid of captaincy has done wonders to his batting as we can witness some out of the box strokes from the right hander.

Strengths

The players are ‘living their best days’ due to the brilliant team environment in the group carried out by the coach and the captain. The batters have full license to go big against any bowling line up in any condition that is a big strength for any team as there is no pressure of getting dropped from the team as ample opportunities are being provided to the players.

Inclusion of Moeen Ali, the off spinner could be handy as there are four left-handed batters in the opposition with David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Alex Carey and Travis Head in the ranks.
England are one of the best teams in the world to exploit home conditions and the fast-bowling operators James Anderson, Stuart Broad and the remaining others to get a chance will create problems for the Aussies.

Weaknesses

England might want the boundaries to be shortened during the series to score more runs and put the opposition under pressure. The WTC champion Australia side might also as well use the opportunity and get some runs under their own belt as they have always done something special in the Ashes.

James Anderson was ruled out of the Ireland Test due to a niggle and there are doubts whether he will be fit enough in time to start the series.

Sign of concern at the top of the order with Zak Crawley not scoring as much runs in the last few games.

The selectors had to ask Moeen Ali to come out of Test retirement replacing the injured left arm spinner Jack Leach. Moeen hasn’t played any red-ball cricket since 2021 and getting him in the act straightaway could be a worry. Also it shows the lack of depth in the English spin reserves.

All in all, the English side looks really strong despite the few weaknesses and are strong contenders to win the Ashes back against a confident and champion Australia side. The home support and experience of playing in the conditions also indicate towards England. The action begins June 16th.

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Dillip Mohanty

Dillip Mohanty

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.

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