Whilst Australia remain favourites for this summer’s Ashes series, England are not to be underestimated. Rob Cross casts his eye over the two squads, giving predictions on how each player will perfrom.
Alastair Cook ©
Series predictions: After a terrible run of form and calls for him to be axed from the side, Captain Cook began his resurgence against the West Indies and New Zealand. Cook must better his average of 39.71 against Australia if he is to have a meaningful impact with the bat, but I have faith that he will take this momentum into this series and score well. 7.5/10
Did you know? Cook became the youngest player to complete 8000 Test runs, 21 days younger than Sachin Tendulkar.
Series predictions: An unknown quantity when it comes to Ashes cricket, but early impressions have been fairly positive. He Appears to be solid under pressure but I don’t expect Lyth to be one of our top scorers. If he capitulates with the bat, Alex Hales will be nipping at his heels. 6/10
Did you know? Lyth had a football trial with Manchester City before playing semi-professional football for Whitby Town F.C.
Series predictions: Set the 2014 India series alight but has struggled with form recently. Luckily for him, his run drought has been masked by the successes of others. If he can post a good score in Cardiff then he has the ability to have an excellent series. There is plenty of competition for middle-order places if he fails. 6/10
Did you know? Ballance was born and raised in Zimbabwe (where his parents were tobacco farmers), before attending Harrow School.
Series predictions: Even at 24 years-old, Root is arguably England’s best player. He has both the temperament and the capacity to win Tests for England and could well be England’s highest run-scorer in this series. Root was jostled around the order in the last series which didn’t help his cause, but the stability will benefit him this time around. 9/10
Did you know? Root holds the world record for the 10th wicket stand in Test cricket. He managed 198 with James Anderson in 2014.
Series predictions: A seasoned pro, but heading towards the twilight of his Test career. Heavily criticised after the last Ashes series but has proved his worth against Australia in home Tests. Can anchor an innings and change a result. However, he has to turn his recent form around. Will he do it? I’m not sure. 6.5/10
Did you know? Bell has scored Test centuries against every nation that he has played against. He is also an avid supporter of Aston Villa.
Series predictions: Labelled as the ‘new Andrew Flintoff’, Stokes proved in the New Zealand ODI series that he has the charisma, but more importantly the skills with bat and ball to have an impact in big matches. May only chip in here and there, but when he does, I believe that it could make a big difference. Stokes was one of England’s better players in the whitewash. 7/10
Did you know? Stokes missed the T20 World Cup through injury after punching a locker and breaking his wrist.
Series predictions: A sensational talent with the bat, as proven on numerous occasions in the short forms of the game. Buttler has also started his Test career with purpose, and I expect him to make significant impacts throughout the series. His partnerships with the middle and lower order will be vital. 8.5/10
Did you know? Buttler holds the record for England’s 1st and 2nd fastest ODI centuries, scoring three-figures off 61 and 66 balls.
Series predictions: Will be England’s front-line spinner for the series; a huge responsibility. Needs to become more consistent, otherwise it could be a rough series for him. Will need to be effective with both ball and bat, otherwise his place could be in jeopardy to Adil Rashid. 6/10
Did you know? Ali has two cousins, Kabir and Kadeer who also play first-class cricket. He is also the Global Brand Ambassador for Orphans in Need.
Series predictions: A huge series for Broad. One of the only players to emerge from the 2013-14 whitewash with any credibility, Broad has been consistently effective with the ball against Australia. His batting has let him down in recent times but I am confident of some telling contributions this time around. 7.5/10
Did you know? Broad is one of only four test bowlers with two Test hat-tricks. Contrastingly, he was the first bowler to ever concede six sixes in an over in T20s.
Series predictions: Consistently took wickets against New Zealand, and early signs were promising. Has good pace and can move the ball well. Hard to say how effective he will be, but I suspect that he won’t be as potent as Messrs Broad or Anderson in the long term. 6.5/10
Did you know? Has taken 89 wickets at an average of 25.94 in his First Class career thus far.
Series predictions: Arguably past his prime, but still one of England’s front-line bowlers. Hopefully his reverse swing will prove troublesome to the Aussies. I believe that the vast majority of England’s wickets will be taken by pace, so his form is vital to England’s chances. 7.5/10
Did you know? Anderson posed nude in Attitude magazine in 2010 in opposition to homophobia. He became the first cricketer to do so.
Michael Clarke ©
Series predictions: Still a fantastic batsman and captain. Having bowed out of ODI cricket after Australia’s World Cup win, Test cricket is his sole focus. If Clarke can stay injury free then expect him to score a bucketful. 7/10
Did you know? Clarke is the only player in Test Cricket history to score 4 double centuries in a single calendar year.
Series predictions: Has scored three of his four Test hundreds against England, and has been a consistent performer in recent times. Supports Warner ably as opener despite his age and will be keen to bow out of Test cricket on a high. 6/10
Did you know? Rogers only made his Test debut at the age of 30. He is now 37 and has announced his plans to retire after the Ashes this year.
Series predictions: Scored over 500 runs last time around and his aggressive hitting is the perfect foil for Rogers’ more reserved approach. Has the potential to be a real thorn in England’s side once again. Seems to be unfazed by pressure or scandal and will relish the chance to wipe any smiles off the faces of the Barmy Army. 7.5/10
Did you know? Warner punched Joe Root at Walkabout bar in Birmingham in 2013 and was fined £7,000. His wife also had a brief relationship with comedian David Walliams.
Series predictions: Australia’s Joe Root. This baby-faced run machine is now number one in the Test rankings and will be their top run-scorer if England’s bowlers can’t get on top of him. The vice-captain might well change the course of a Test or two. 9/10
Did you know? Smith made his Test debut in 2010 as a leg-spinner. He is also a huge fan of tennis superstar, Roger Federer.
Series predictions: Has good experience in England, so the hosts must be wary of his credentials. Completely new to the Ashes and the pressure it brings. How will he handle the heat? It really could go either way, but I doubt he will be a standout player for the visitors. 6/10
Did you know? Voges became the oldest debut centurion ever with his knock against the West Indies in April 2015.
Series predictions: Watson is fighting for his position in the side against a resurgent Mitchell Marsh and despite being the bedrock of several series’, he is no longer the consistent force with bat or ball that he once was. England should be wary however, and there may be some fight in the old dog yet. 6.5/10
Did you know? Watson claims to have seen a ghost in 2005 whilst on tour in England and refused to sleep in his hotel room.
Series predictions: Exceptional against England last time around. I believe that he will be effective once again, but not with the same ferocity as in 2013/14. Peter Nevill will keep him on his toes if he fails to perform. Can provide stubborn resistance in the line-up. 7/10
Did you know? In 2013, Haddin became only the second wicket-keeper to hit 5 half-centuries in a Test series.
Series predictions: The man demands attention. One of the most feared bowlers on the planet, he terrorised the English batsmen down under, and I believe he has the capabilities to do similar damage this time around. England will not under-estimate him in this series, but I still believe that he will take the most wickets of the Australian bowlers. 8.5/10
Did you know? Johnson was plagued by injuries early in his career and was forced to drive plumbing vans as his career was at a crossroads.
Series predictions: I believe that Starc along with Johnson will be Australia’s key men with the ball. Had a wonderful World Cup and confidence will be high. More than capable with the bat as well, and could provide a few quick-fire knocks to boost an innings total. Will continue his rise in Test cricket in this series. 8/10
Did you know? Starc became the first batsman to be dismissed for 99 after coming in at No. 9 in a Test match.
Series predictions: Consistently average. Having to battle for his place with Fawad Ahmed may spur him on a little more, but if he bowls I don’t expect him to leave England with too many wounds. Has been unable to fill the gaping void left by Warne. 6.5/10
Did you know? Lyon became the 17th bowler in the history of Test cricket to take a wicket off his first ball.
Series predictions: Another talented young pace bowler facing tough competition for places. Made a positive impression at the World Cup however, and will be keen to maintain his position in the side. I do not think he will be England’s biggest threat, but certainly one to watch in years to come. 7/10
Did you know? At 19, Hazlewood became the youngest Australian cricketer to ever make his ODI debut, taking a five-wicket haul.