Who should be lining up for England in the 2014-15 Ashes?

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by Tom Maston

Following Matthew Wood and Ben Roberts’ discussion regarding who should feature in the Australian side for the 2014-15 Ashes, I thought it only fair to give them some opponents, and draw out my own England side for four years time.

Opening the batting in my side is current vice-captain Alastair Cook, who, despite questions surrounding his technique, has managed to keep his place in the side. Given the ECB’s policy of simply picking the most experienced player in the squad to be skipper, the Essex man also gets the nod as captain.

Alongside the skipper is Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth, who is already showing great promise despite only having two full seasons in first-class cricket. After becoming the first man to reach 1000 runs in 2010 County Championship, he is well and truly on the national selector’s radar. He will also be 27 by 2014, and in the prime of his cricketing career, giving him more than a good chance of facing the Aussies in four years.

At three I have chosen Ian Bell, who will still only be 32 come 2014. Despite not having the best record against Australia, he seems to be now eventually becoming a quality international batsman, and by the time he reaches his 30’s he has every chance of being in the top 10 test match batsmen in the world.

James Taylor is my choice at number four. He currently averages over 45 in first-class cricket, and at only 20, he is one of the brightest prospects in English cricket. He has already impressed in the England Lions side and if he continues his good form should be one of the most exciting young batsmen in world cricket by the time 2014 comes round.

Eoin Morgan takes his place in the team at number five. His innovative style of batting has catapulted him into the limelight, and it won’t be long before he begins stamping his authority on the test match stage. At 28, he will be another who should be in the prime of his cricketing career, and he has every chance of being the man the Australians most fear come 2014.

At six I have gone for the slightly controversial choice of Ravi Bopara. Many Australians would be rubbing their hands with glee at the sight of Ravi walking to the crease, but I feel in four years time he will have matured and be more consistently showing the form he showed against the West Indies in the summer of 2009. Also, batting at six should give him slightly more freedom, instead of having to come in when the pressure is on after the first wicket.

England’s wicket keeping position is always up for much debate, but I have gone with Stephen Davies to fill the position by the time 2014 comes around. He has established himself in the one-day side after some good performance against an admittedly downhearted Pakistan side, and the fact he has been taken to Australia this year as back-up for Matt Prior shows that he is very much the man the selectors see as Prior’s long-term replacement.

As much as I would love to put Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid in my side, I am going to instead going to give Graeme Swann one final ‘Swann-song ‘ (sorry) and choose him in my side. He will be 35 by 2014 and most probably coming to the end of his career, but spinners always seem to get better with age, and I believe Swann will be no different.

England’s seam department should be fairly similar to what it is now, with Stuart Broad and Stephen Finn both looking likely to be top quality international bowlers, whilst with their height they should both do well in Australia. The third seamer position goes to Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes, who at 21 is the best young seamer in England at the moment, having already recorded eight five-wicket hauls in his seemingly short career.

As seems the way, England’s squad usually consists of 16 players, and therefore I have chosen Adil Rashid, Yorkshire’s Jonathan Bairstow (back-up wicket keeper), Hampshire’s Jimmy Adams, Durham’s Ben Stokes and Jonathan Trott, who could very well get a chance in the side if the pressure gets to the likes of Taylor or Bopara.

So there it is, a fine side if I do say it myself. Some familiar names, but also some exciting new faces. I look forward to looking back at this in four years time and giving myself a pat on the back, or most probably asking myself what was I thinking.

How would your England squad of 2014-5 Look?

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