The Ashes 2023: who makes NationalWorld’s squad for Edgbaston Test match as England face Australia?

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Will James Anderson and Ollie Robinson return to face Australia in first Ashes Test match?

It’s been a long four-year wait. But finally, the 2023 Ashes series is in touching distance and England fans will trek to grounds around the country to watch Ben Stokes and his England squad take on the Australians in one of sport’s fiercest rivalries.

2019 was the last home tour, and also the last against the Aussies where England looked as if they had a fighting chance of winning. The 2021/22 Ashes series was a complete demolition for the travelling side with the only vague solace coming in the form of a draw in Sydney.

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England’s set-up has undergone monumental changes since last facing their Australian rivals with new terms such as ‘Bazball’ and ‘nighthawk’ introducing themselves into the vernacular. We have a new coach, captain and our own style of play. But who is set to be in the squad ready to face the newly-crowned ICC Test Champions?

Who should England pick for their first Ashes Test match?

England’s recent Test match against Ireland has not really taught us anything overly valuable about our squad for the Ashes. With no disrespect to the Irish, but playing a team who only qualified for ICC Test status in 2018 is not quite the same as Australia’s preparation of playing on English soil against the second ranked Test team in the world.

So, while we had magnificent bowling and batting displays - recently confirmed vice-captain Ollie Pope and Ben Duckett for example - facing Mark Adair and Andy McBrine is a different story to facing Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon.

But, who else has made NationalWorld’s cut for the first Test match?

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There seems no budging when it comes to Zak Crawley. It’s unlikely he was in many people’s Ashes dream teams but here he is and while his 50 against Ireland will not quell many fans’ fears (as we wait in dread, hoping he avoids repeating Rory Burns’ infamous golden duck at The Gabba), it will have aided his confidence, without a doubt.

Zak Crawley bats during Test against IrelandZak Crawley bats during Test against Ireland
Zak Crawley bats during Test against Ireland | Getty Images

So while he wouldn’t have been in many’s preferred squad to play this Ashes we must make do and place him alongside Duckett to open. Ollie Pope and Joe Root then take up the next two spots as we dig into the batting line-up before 2022’s shining star Harry Brook steps out.

Brook had never played a senior international match when 2022 began but by the end he had secured a T20 World Cup medal, won the Professional Cricketers Association Young Player of the Year award and won both ICC World Player of the Month for December 2022 and February 2023.

This Ashes series will be by far his biggest challenge yet but with his 2022 story in mind, England fans will have no fear that the 24-year-old will come out to the crease full of youthful confidence and exuberance, ready to take down the likes of Cummins and Scott Boland (hopefully) with ease.

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Ben Stokes will slip into the number six spot and then we welcome back Jonny Bairstow. Ahead of the Ashes, there had been much deliberation as to what would happen to Ben Foakes due to the return of fellow wicket-keeper.

Foakes is known to be one of the best in the country with the gloves but with Bairstow a seemingly more reliable batter one of them was to face the cut and unfortunately the Surrey man suffered the consequences.

Crawley had been another name banded around with wishful believers thinking the opener could be dropped in favour of having both Bairstow and Foakes. But dropping an opener for two middle-order wicket-keepers was a bit far-fetched.

But now we get to the real fun. Stokes and McCullum have not been particularly varied in their batting options, choosing to bring in Dan Lawrence as the solitary replacement.

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However the same cannot be said for the bowlers as we have James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Joshua Tongue, Matthew Potts with Moeen Ali the newly added spinner.

After announcing his retirement from the Test format in September 2021, it only seemed a matter of time that the blistering all-rounder would return when the Bazball style emerged, and Moeen Ali now represents our only full-time spin option. The Warwickshire off-spinner will doubtless take the number eight batting option.

But how do we decide out of seven seam bowlers when we only have three places left? Well, the question is actually more a case of who is going to withstand the test of the Australians and not worsen their injury?

Both Anderson and Robinson missed the Ireland Test through respective groin and ankle injuries but could return. Will Stokes opt to continue resting them as a precaution or is it time to welcome back England’s best ever bowler as well as the seamer who took 11 wickets in the 2021/22 series?

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Mark Wood and Josh Tongue also represent our fastest options and when taking on Smith, Labuschagne and Travis Head, England cannot afford to rely purely on seam. But does this then mean we separate the beloved bromance of Broad and Anderson?

Josh Tongue took a fabulous fifer on his debut against Ireland and Broad was the first innings star with the ball, also securing yet another five-wicket haul so it seems absurd to suggest they are the ones most likely to miss out on selection for the first Ashes Test, especially when taking into account Broad’s wealth of experience with Ashes series.

James Anderson looks on with Ollie Robinson (R) and Stuart Broad (far left)James Anderson looks on with Ollie Robinson (R) and Stuart Broad (far left)
James Anderson looks on with Ollie Robinson (R) and Stuart Broad (far left) | Getty Images

But as Mark Wood was England’s top wicket-taker down under in 2021/22 with 17 wickets from his four matches the Durham paceman will be favoured over his Worcestershire counterpart.

With Robinson and Broad then to choose from (because Jimmy just has to be in the squad, sorry) England fans will surely hope that it is the man with 582 wickets who is selected, not least because we will hope for a 2019 repeat of the Broad vs Warner affair.

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The last home series saw the Nottingham paceman take Warner’s wicket seven out of ten possible times. The 36-year-old will undoubtedly be bouncing with anticipation to rile up the Australian opener once again and Birmingham will assuredly erupt when the golden wicket is taken.

NationalWorld’s First Ashes squad: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson

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