England announce strongest available Ashes squad to face Australia
Joe Root will lead his strongest available squad to try and regain the Ashes after all players signed up for the tour.
With a few conditions still to be ironed out, Chris Silverwood was able to pick a familiar looking 17-man squad that includes vice-captain Jos Buttler for the five match challenge that starts in Brisbane on December 8th.
And it remains an Everest-esque challenge ahead of Root and co who will be without the injured Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Sam Curran and Olly Stone for the trip.
But for Root to be able to call on the likes of pace bowlers Mark Wood and Chris Woakes who both had concerns over the bubble and quarantine arrangements for families, is a big plus.
There is plenty of overseas Ashes experience flying out to Oz in the shape of Root, Stuart Broad and James Anderson, but there was no room for an Ashes bolter such as Liam Livingstone who might have caused a stir.
It is a step into the unknown for most of the squad with ten players making the tour for the first time even though all 17 players have played Test cricket in 2021.
“I am delighted that all of our available players have committed to the tour. This is why we play and coach to be involved in iconic series like this.
“More than half of our squad haven't featured in an Ashes tour before, which means we will be fresh and looking to embrace the cricket and the excitement of touring one of the best places in the world.
"I believe we have selected a well-balanced squad with options in all areas and a blend of youth and experience. There is real competition for places and a genuine desire to work hard and compete, aiming to create some history.”
Only Middlesex men, Mike Gatting and Andrew Strauss, know what it feels like to captain a winning tour to Australia in the past 35 years.
But Root will be hoping to emulate the success of fellow Yorkshireman Ray Illingworth who got the job done in 1970/71.
Root will need lots more support in the batting department where he will hope Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan can fire as the only two players in the squad with overseas Ashes tons to their name.
And in the spin department Jack Leach and Dom Bess have been asked to take over where Moeen Ali’s retirement has left off this summer.
Silverwood added: "We are under no illusions about how difficult the task is going to be. Australia have been strong at home in the past, and there is an expectation on them to win this series.
“However, from our point of view, there is genuine excitement and belief that we can do something special.
"Both teams are in similar positions in the Test world rankings. For that reason, it should be a compelling series.”
Preparation for the series will come in the shape of an England Lions squad, yet to be named, to provide opposition for two warm up matches.
England Men's Test Squad - Ashes Tour of Australia 2021-22: Joe Root, James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.