Men for Oz

With England having retained The Ashes, thoughts have turned to the return series with Australia this winter.

Last Updated: 27/08/13 at 14:03 Post Comment

While a host of English players seemingly have a steadfast grip on a place in the touring party, there are still question marks over a few of the other spots for the trip Down Under.

Andrew Strauss, Nasser Hussain and Mike Atherton formed a pseudo selection panel in the Ashes Zone on Sunday morning and selected the 17 men they hope are given the chance to tackle the Aussies later this year and early next.

Our expert group, of which Strauss served as chief selector, were in unison whilst picking 12 "definites" for the journey to Australia, who - fitness permitting - were:

Alastair Cook (c)

Joe Root

Jonathan Trott

Kevin Pietersen

Ian Bell

Matt Prior

Stuart Broad

Graeme Swann

James Anderson

Tim Bresnan

Steve Finn

Chris Tremlett

However, there were differences of opinion when trying to complete the make-up of the squad, as you will discover if you read the paragraphs below...

Number six batsman

NASSER SAYS: I am concerned about Jonny Bairstow as he has got a technical issue of playing across straight balls and gets bowled too often. He has had starts throughout the series and not gone on which will really disappoint him, but he looked the best we have seen him at Durham in the fourth Ashes Test.

ATHERS SAYS: Bairstow averages 29 in this series but Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott are similar and only Ian Bell has scored heavily for England, so Bairstow's performances are not that different to many of the established players. I like his aggression, while his wicket-keeping skills mean you don't have to take a second 'keeper.

STRAUSSY SAYS: Bairstow has not nailed down a spot but he has shown glimpses and what is good about him is that he can play in an aggressive manner at number six and you always want a player who can play that way. He is still a young player and learning his game and I think he is a good guy to go.

PICK: JONNY BAIRSTOW

Reserve batsman

NASSER SAYS: You have to be consistent with selection. James Taylor played last summer against South Africa and did okay, and he was brought into the Ashes squad when there were doubts over Kevin Pietersen's fitness, so if he was the next man then, why isn't he now? Plus, he got a hundred against Australia while playing for Sussex and averages just over 58 this season in the first division of the County Championship.

ATHERS SAYS: I am going to make a case for Nick Compton. Traditionally in Australia you take three opening batsmen as Australia is the hardest place to open with its bouncy pitches, while Compton has done pretty well for England in India and New Zealand and only had a difficult couple of Test matches at home to New Zealand before being left out. Plus, he is versatile and has batted at three and in the middle order.

STRAUSSY SAYS: I think you need a third opener on standby but he doesn't need to be part of the touring party and instead you need someone who can bat between three and six, and Taylor fits the bill. He has a phenomenal record, while we don't know enough about him to discard him and this is an opportunity to see more of him.

PICK: JAMES TAYLOR

Reserve seamer

NASSER SAYS: I like Somerset's Jamie Overton and I like Boyd Rankin, but I would find it difficult to go to Graham Onions, who gets carried around all the world, and say: 'You have had another fantastic season for Durham but we are going to take someone else'. We have a lot of tall bowlers in Broad, Finn and Tremlett so I wouldn't want another one and Onions keeps performing, so I am going to go for him. No-one bowls like Anderson - apart from Dale Steyn, and we can't pick him - but if he gets injured, Onions is the man.

ATHERS SAYS: England have usually taken a young bowler to Australia - think Bob Willis in 1970/71 - but I don't see the value in someone like Overton going if he isn't going to play, and while I like Rankin and his height, I am happy to go with Onions.

STRAUSSY SAYS: The wickets in Australia are not all the same - Adelaide is much slower and lower, and Melbourne can be slow and low, too - so I want flexibility and not bowlers who are all hit-the-deck, so I am going for Onions.

PICK: GRAHAM ONIONS

Reserve spinner

NASSER SAYS: James Tredwell has had a poor first-class season, and I don't think you can risk Simon Kerrigan on an Ashes tour after what we've seen so far, even though you can't judge a man on one performance. Monty Panesar's off-field issues have translated into on-field issues - he has only got his wickets at 42 apiece at Sussex and is now on-loan at Essex - but if he sorts them out [he goes].

ATHERS SAYS: Panesar is the best spinner. Get him in the squad.

STRAUSSY SAYS: That second spinner is unlikely to play with Graeme Swann in the side and will have a lot of time on his own, so it will be a hard tour mentally for that man. Therefore, I would want to be sure that Panesar has resolved any off-field issues as if he hasn't it will be difficult for him. If he hasn't, Tredwell - who is a solid individual, a good guy to have in the dressing room and is always positive and hard working - would be my pick, but if Monty is okay, it is a no-brainer that he goes.

PICK: MONTY PANESAR

17th man

STRAUSSY SAYS: I would like to see an all-rounder go so that if England's bowlers are struggling they can put someone in who can bat at six or seven and be a fourth seamer - and that man is Chris Woakes. He is not the finished article and while his bowling on a flat wicket at The Oval lacked a bit of penetration, so did a lot of the England seamers. He has been in the performance squad for a number of years and I don't think he can learn much more from that set-up, and the final piece of the jigsaw is understanding how he goes about his business by having him in the full squad.

PICK: CHRIS WOAKES

Do you agree with Messrs Strauss, Hussain and Atherton? Let us know using the feedback form below...

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