England name full-strength squad of available players for the Ashes
England have named a full-strength squad of available players for the Ashes but there is no place for Ben Stokes in the 17-man party. Stokes was not considered for selection as he continues to take an indefinite break from cricket to manage his well-being.
The all-rounder's absence is no surprise but leaves a huge hole in Joe Root's team as they attempt to reclaim the Ashes and win in Australia for the first time in eleven years. Stokes has now missed the last two Ashes tours down under at a time when he has been in his cricketing prime. The next time England tour Australia, Stokes will be 34.
Elsewhere, the 17-man squad is pretty much as expected with Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence the spare batsmen and Dom Bess the second spinner to Jack Leach. Stuart Broad, who tore a calf after the first Test against India in August, has also been included subject to proving his fitness in a pre-departure training camp at Loughborough.
England squad for the Ashes: Joe Root (c), 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.
Ten of the 17-man squad will be embarking on their first Ashes tour to Australia. That number includes Jos Buttler, the vice-captain, who was not selected for the 2017/18 series. All of the squad have been capped at Test level which was something Chris Silverwood, the head coach, prioritised. He has long said that he did not want to take any players to Australia who might have to make their debuts in an Ashes Test match.
England's fast-bowling attack is set to lack the variety that Silverwood has constantly advocated during his tenure, however. The initial plan for the Ashes was to select a three-pronged battery of quick bowlers to target Australia with high pace but injuries to Jofra Archer and Olly Stone have left that in tatters. Mark Wood is the only genuine pace bowler in the party while there is no left-arm option either with Sam Curran ruled out with a stress fracture of the back.
The top three who finished the series against India - Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan - have all been included while Jonny Bairstow will provide wicket-keeping back-up to Buttler. In the bowling department, Ollie Robinson and Craig Overton have both been included alongside Broad, Wood, James Anderson and Chris Woakes.
"A tour of Australia is the pinnacle as an England Test cricketer," Silverwood said. "I am delighted that all of our available players have committed to the tour. We are looking forward to touring and enjoying the experience of this historic series.
"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.
"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. We can enjoy the build-up to the tour, get out there, and prepare well ahead of the first Test in Brisbane."
A Lions squad will be named next week. That party will shadow the full squad to provide replacements in case of injury or illness as well as providing warm-up opposition in the lead-up to the series. There will be a three-day and four-day practice game before the first Test in Brisbane on December 8.
"Having the Lions with the Ashes squad will be integral to our build-up," Silverwood said. "The extended group of players will be with us before the first Test. We will play two competitive warm-up games amongst both squads to give us the match practice we need as part of our build-up. It's an excellent opportunity to connect the Lions into the England environment and gain a good understanding of what is required to play at the highest level."
Providing the final conditions set down by the ECB for the tour to go ahead are met, England's Test specialists and the Lions squad are set to depart for Australia on Thursday 4 November. Those players who are part of England's T20 World Cup squad in the UAE will join the Ashes tour after their tournament commitments.