England come into the Ashes in disarray. The once vaunted best side in the world was humiliated by a 2-0 loss to Zimbabwe at home, and then 2-0 up in the first two tests against the West Indies managed to lose twice in the fourth and fifth tests (by 1 run!) to draw the series. Australia, for their part, comfortably disposed of a Bangaldeshi side at home 2-0, while fell 1 wicket away from a famous 2-1 victory in India. England have held an iron grip on the urn since 2008, the previous two series being 3-0 victories, but this Ashes is anticipated to be the best for over a decade. Will this series be another Australian horror story, or another chapter in England's inexorable decline?
Opening Batsmen (3)
Alastair Cook - Former England captain and holder of 152 test caps with an average of 51.12. At the age of 33, this will most likely be his last tour of Australia
Adam Henry - The highly rated Derbyshire opener takes after Cook with a defensive style, in his only test innings scored 84 and 26. Expected to open alongside Cook.
Kevin Mitchell - The precocious 22 year old played 7 tests in the summer of 2017, bagging two centuries and an average of 42.36. Though the selectors preferred to blood in Henry, Mitchell is sure to have a bright future in the England setup.
Middle Order Batsmen (5)
Gerald Whitehead - The England captain is one of the greatest batsmen the game has ever seen. 25 test centuries, over 9000 runs and an average above 60, and he's still 29.
Alex Smith - A continued performer in county cricket, Smith finally broke into the one day setup this season but was disappointing. A strong competitor for a test spot.
Tim Coop - Another consistent county performer, but constantly in and out of the England XI. England know that they will definately get an average a shade above 40 from Coop, but the selectors desire more.
Phil Bishop - One of the great England batsmen, despite a poor performance this season a shoe-in for the his number 4 spot. His test average of 55 doesn't lie.
Barry Beasley - Another of a legion of great county batsmen, Beasley finally got his chance this season and produced a 63, but little else of note in his 3 tests. A probable starter in the 1st test.
Adil Rashid - Will not play a test, but a lynchpin of the England one day side. 121 wickets at 22.90 in 67 internationals makes him one of the best limited overs spinners in the world.
Daniel Lane - Solid with the gloves and competent with the bat, Lane is England's established keeper for both forms. His test average of 34.37 is good enough for all intents and purposes.
Paul Westwood - A magnificent season with the bat (999 runs at 58.76) propelled Westwood to the tour party, though will probably not play a game save through injuries.
Fast Bowlers (5)
James Harris (RFM) - 303 test wickets at a shade over 30, Harris was controversially dropped for the tests last season after a poor run, but kept his place in the one day setup before being recalled for the Ashes.
Glenn Peel (RFM) - A top class ODI bowler but his four tests were a joke. Will not be playing a test this summer.
Alex May (RFM) - The best one day bowler in the country, but hasn't reproduced it for England so far. In his only test to date picked up match figures of 2-211.
Alec Frogget (RF) - At his best, capable of destroying any lineup in the world. Unfortunately this is few and far between, and his selection for the tour is a source of controversy.
Jeff Hislop (RFM) - Arguably England's best bowler, Hislop has masterful command of the
swinging ball but is somewhat impotent when it doesn't. 209 wickets under 30 is a sign of class.
Spin Bowlers (2)
Monty Panesar - 479 wickets at 27.15, but he was 2nd choice to Keith Schofield before the legspinner's retirement due to injury. Took a 10fer on his return from exile but has done little since.
Malcolm Bunter (OS) - In his 5 tests so far has taken 28 wickets at 28.36 including a 7-97 against Pakistan. Many feel he has a good case to be selected ahead of Panesar.