England pick Jake Ball for the first Ashes Test at the Gabba

Australia call up Glenn Maxwell as cover for David Warner and Shaun Marsh

Jake Ball England Australia Ashes Test Gabba
England bowler Jake Ball has been selected for the first Ashes Test against Australia  
(Image credit: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Seam bowler Jake Ball has been named in the England side to face Australia in the first Ashes Test match.

Ball has been given the nod ahead of Craig Overton for the match which starts at midnight tonight at the Gabba. He had missed the final warm-up game with an ankle sprain but is fit for Brisbane.

Speaking at the team announcement, England captain Joe Root admitted it was tough deciding between Ball and Overton.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Root said: “It wasn’t an easy decision. Craig has come into the squad and everything asked of him he’s done really well.

“All the players on their first tour have impressed and it's great that the whole squad seems to be performing.

See more

“Jake has bowled well when he’s had his opportunity on the tour and the way he goes about things on these surfaces could be really challenging for the Australians.”

Meanwhile, Australia have called up Glenn Maxwell as cover for batsmen David Warner and Shaun Marsh, who are “under an injury cloud” says cricket.com.au.

Warner has a stiff neck and Marsh pulled up with a stiff back in training today. However, Australia skipper Steve Smith is confident that Warner will be fit for the Gabba Test.

“Davey is going well,” said Smith. “He had a hit just before and he’s very confident. He said he’ll be right to go.”

England’s team for the first Ashes Test: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (captain), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, James Anderson.

Nathan Lyon: we’re going to end England careers during the Ashes

21 November

Nathan Lyon has launched an astonishing tirade against England as the Australians seek to up the ante days before the first Ashes Test in Brisbane.

Reflecting on the 2013-14 series Down Under, a 5-0 whitewash for the Aussies, Lyon said that the English had been “broken” by Mitchell Johnson’s pace bowling and accused England wicketkeeper Matt Prior of losing his nerve.

Off-spinner Lyon, one of three Australian survivors from that series, said: “It’s an unbelievable feeling, knowing that they are broken. Leading into Perth we knew that they were broken. We knew Matt Prior wanted to fly home before the game started, and he was one of the senior players. He was scared.”

Asked who else was scared of Johnson on the England side, the 30-year-old Lyon said: “One to eleven. I was at leg slip and I nearly had to push a couple of the guys back towards the stumps. It was good fun.”

See more

Lyon then stated his belief that the Aussie pace attack for the forthcoming series of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins is even more intimidating than that which the tourists endured four years ago.

“They are class bowlers,” he said of the pair. “I’m not getting in the nets to face them because they are bowling way too quick for my liking.”

The 2013-14 series signalled the end of international cricket for Prior, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann, prompting Lyon to reflect: “I didn’t end them. I think Mitchell Johnson ended them. If you ask Mitch, it was quite satisfying if you look at his past and the pressures the English put him under, with the Barmy Army, and everything like that.”

And when asked if he believed this Ashes series would result in the demise of some more England reputations, Lyon said: “Hope so.”

See more

Lyon’s comments drew a swift response from Prior, who was dropped for the final two Tests of the 2013-14 series.

“That’s absolutely laughable,” he exclaimed. “If I was scared, why didn’t I go home then? I have no idea where this has come from. All I can do is laugh. It’s wholeheartedly untrue. I stayed out there and what hurt me more was that I got dropped for the last two Tests because I wasn’t playing well.

“I think Nathan Lyon has got other things to worry about without thinking about me. I hope the first Test goes really well for him because otherwise I’d suggest he’s concentrating on the wrong things. I will be watching with interest to see how he goes. I hope he lets his cricket do the talking now.”

Josh Hazlewood: Australia aim to open up England Ashes ‘scars’

20 November

Pace bowler Josh Hazlewood says Australia will be looking to “open up a few scars” when they face England in the Ashes series.

The first Ashes Test starts at the Gabba on Thursday. Hazlewood told the BBC that the Baggy Greens will be keen to remind England of the 5-0 drubbing they had on their last tour down under in 2013-14.

Despite England winning the last Ashes series 3-2 two years ago, Hazlewood said that 2013-14 will still be fresh in the players’ minds.

“We have guys who played in that series who will remind England what happened,” said Hazlewood, who picked out England skipper Joe Root for his poor performances with the bat last time down under. “We’ll certainly bring that up. He’s a different player to then, he’s been a fantastic player for the past couple of years.

See more

“But we’ll obviously bring that up and hope to open up a few scars of the guys that did tour here last time.”

Called the “greatest Test bowler on the planet” today by teammate Nathan Lyon, Hazlewood also said that Australia’s 28-match undefeated record at the Gabba will give the home side a big advantage in the first Test.

“I think it’ll be in the back of their minds already for whoever tours at the Gabba, playing against Australia with the record that we have here,” Hazlewood told cricket.com.au.

He added that the conditions and wicket are a bit quicker than any touring team has played on in a while. “It’s a good place for us to start because we know the conditions well,” he said. “We’re used to the pace and the bounce whereas the opposition is not. It’s always in our favour.”

See more

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that the new 60,000-seat Perth Stadium will host the fifth and final one-day international match in the series between Australia and England.

The match, which is on 28 January, will be the first event at the new stadium. Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland told cricket.com.au: “For cricket to host the first major sporting event at Perth Stadium is a huge honour for our sport, and given it’s an Australia-England fixture, we are confident that [we] will be able to celebrate history being made with a sold-out stadium.

“Thanks must go to the WA Government, Venues Live and the WACA for working hard to enable this to happen. The stadium is simply state-of-the-art, and a magnificent asset for the state and WA sports fans.”

See more

Mark Stoneman: England will be ready for the Gabba

16 November

After hitting England’s first century of the tour Down Under, opener Mark Stoneman has admitted that life will get much harder for the tourists in next week’s first Ashes Test at the Gabba.

A Cricket Australia XI were bowled out for 250 in their first innings of the final warm-up in Townsville. Stoneman scored 111 on the second day as England racked up 337-3 and a lead of 87 runs.

Alastair Cook scored 70 and Joe Root was unbeaten on 62, but Stoneman knows the standard of the Cricket Australia XI attack is nowhere near what England will face in Brisbane.

He told ESPNCricInfo that even though the opposition bowling has not been strong in the final warm-up, England will be ready to face Australia.

“It’s been well documented and everyone is critical of the opposition we’ve faced in the warm-up games”, he said.

“We’re going to be tested a hell of a lot more next week, that’s for sure. There are no doubts about that and everyone’s aware of it.

“Obviously there’s going to be more pace and bounce from the attack and the pitch in Brisbane. But we’re playing here against a different team so all you can do is go through the processes that stand you in good stead.”

See more

It’s too late, in any case, for a change of strategy. “It’s going to have to be enough. We can’t change the preparation we’ve been given”, he says. “That’s where self-awareness and knowing where you are within your own game are key.”

Confidence is also key. “We’ve put in the work we can against the opposition and worked hard in the nets”, he says. “We’ll be ready for the Gabba.”

Meanwhile, Cricket.com.au reports that Tim Paine will be named as Australia’s wicketkeeper for the opening Test, starting on 23 November.

Australia will name their full squad for the first match at midnight tonight, with Paine set to be recalled in place of Matthew Wade.

Paine has not played a Test for more than seven years and his recall would represent a “stunning turnaround in fortunes”, says Cricket.com.au. Reports earlier this year said he was set to retire from cricket.

Want to win the Ashes down under? You must silence the Aussie fans...

15 November

If England want to win the Ashes series then they have to “stop the noise” of the Australian fans, says Graeme Swann.

The former spin bowler was part of the 2010 series Down Under which England won 3-1 and says a major reason for the tourists’ success was getting the crowd to turn against the Australians.

Comparing the Ashes to Rocky IV, Swann revealed how England can get a knockout blow. “The thing you’ve got to do is stop the noise and the easy way to do that in Australia is to get on top of them,” he told BT Sport.

“Like the crowd in Rocky IV, who are all cheering for Ivan Drago at the start, but as soon as you get on top they start cheering for Rocky. That is what the Australian crowds are like.

“In that second innings at Brisbane [in 2010], when we were 517-1, you could hear a pin drop. By the end no Australians were in the in ground.

“If you get on top of the team, they’ll quickly turn on their own. But obviously the hard bit is getting on top of them.”

Woakes stars on first day in Townsville

Chris Woakes took six wickets on the first day of England’s final warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI in Townsville.

Woakes took 6-54 and Craig Overton took 2-32 as the Cricket Australia XI scored 249-9 on the opening day of the four-day clash.

“It’s nice to get wickets in any game,” Woakes told the BBC. “A week away from the first Test, it’s nice to hit a bit of form.

“I felt that it came out nicely today, which gives me a little bit of confidence. I’ll continue to work and hopefully be ready for next week.”

‘Bring it on’ Joe Root tells Australia

14 November

England skipper Joe Root can’t wait to take on Australia in the Ashes even though he will be the home side’s number one target.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon said that Root will be the focus of the Baggy Green bowling attack - as it is the case for all captains.

Lyon told Sky Sports Radio: “I know every team that comes over here targets the captain and I have no doubt, all our bowlers, we will be targeting Joe Root.”

England play a final warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI starting tomorrow and Root told the BBC that despite all the talk in the build-up to next week’s first Test, it’s part and parcel of the game.

“I’ve heard a lot of chat about targeting me, in particular,” said Root. “We’ll be targeting every single one of them - we won’t be singling anyone out. Bring it on - it’s what it’s all about.

“There’s been a lot of talk. Some of it is exciting and some of it is a load of rubbish, especially from some of the Aussie players.

“I try not to do too much talking. That’s more for them to worry about. The more you say, the more it can backfire on you. We will go about things our way. Hopefully that’s the right way.”

Moeen Ali prepared for Aussie talk at the Gabba

13 November

England’s Moeen Ali says he’s ready and fully prepared to face Australia in the “tough” first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane.

There had been concerns over the all-rounder’s fitness but he has recovered from a side strain and will play for England in their final warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI starting on Wednesday.

Australia have not been beaten at the Gabba since 1988 and the ground is known for its passionate crowd. The Baggy Greens will be confident going into the first Test starting on 23 November and Moeen is ready for an intense start to the Ashes series.

“Australians like to talk a lot, big themselves up,” he told the BBC. “That’s part of the game. It’s not something that I haven’t had before.

See more

“I’ve heard a lot about Brisbane. It’s something you have to block out. You have to focus on your game and the situation that the team is in.

“I’m prepared the best I can. When you’re out there you rely on your instincts. I know it will be tough, but I’ve always backed my ability.”

Jake Ball down as England injury jinx strikes again

9 November

Another day, another setback to England’s hopes of winning the Ashes on Australian soil for only the second time in 30 years.

Two days after Steven Finn was ruled out of the tour with a knee injury, Jake Ball collapsed on the second day of the warm-up game against a Cricket Australia XI in Adelaide.

The fast bowler had only managed 22 balls when he buckled in his delivery stride and sprained his right ankle before limping off the field.

England will assess the injury overnight but it adds to their growing concerns in the seam-bowling department.

“Steven Finn has already left the tour with a left knee injury, while Toby Roland-Jones has a stress fracture of the back and Mark Wood is not yet considered fit as he returns from an ankle injury,” The Times reports. “Jamie Porter, the outstanding seam bowler in county cricket last season, also has a back injury, while Ben Stokes – who Finn initially replaced in the squad – is suspended.”

England have already called up Tom Curran to replace Finn – himself a late addition for the unavailable Stokes – but the Surrey youngster is not due to arrive in Australia until Friday.

Depending on the extent of Ball's injury, England may have to send for reinforcements from an increasingly slim pool of replacements.

“If Ball’s injury is serious enough to require a replacement, Liam Plunkett and Tom Helm – who were considered when Finn forced him home – would lead the queue,” says The Guardian. “Mark Wood, who is with England Lions at Durham, is still not considered fit enough.”

Ball had been in good form in the early part of the tour and was favourite to fill the fourth seamer spot alongside James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes for the first Test.

Now England may have to rethink their plans once more with a player yet to make his international debut suddenly jumping to the front of the queue, according to The Independent.

“If Ball were to miss the first Test at the Gabba in a fortnight’s time it would almost certainly mean a place in the XI for Craig Overton, the Somerset seamer who is also playing in this day-night warm-up game in Adelaide,” the paper says.

The extent of England's problems were highlighted midway through the afternoon session in Adelaide when they had to turn to a 41-year-old who retired from Test cricket in 2011 as a substitute fielder.

“They enlisted the help of fielding coach and former batsman Paul Collingwood on the 12 men bench,” reports the Daily Mirror. “After scoring 1,087 runs for Durham in the County Championship last summer, there have been one or two jokes that Collingwood might have merited a place in this squad as a player anyway, and he soon took to the field.”

England did not have it all their own way on the field either, with Cricket Australia XI recovering from 57-5 to make 233-9 declared in response to England's first innings total of 293 all out. The tourists then closed on 5-0 in the four-day day-night game.

Meanwhile, England Women squandered a good start in the solitary Ashes Test at North Sydney Oval as they closed the first day on 235-7 having been 129-1 thanks to half-centuries from Tammy Beaumont and skipper Heather Knight.

The Ashes: England hit by Steven Finn and Moeen Ali injuries

2 November

England’s Ashes preparations have suffered a setback after Steven Finn and Moeen Ali left training and were sent for scans on their respective knee and side injuries.

The duo will now miss the opening match of the tour - a two-day clash against a Western Australia XI at the WACA in Perth starting on Saturday. England officials confirmed that tomorrow’s scans will “determine the extent of their injuries”.

While Finn is not expected to be in the side for the first Ashes Test at The Gabba on 23 November, all-rounder Moeen would almost certainly be picked.

Speaking to ESPNCricInfo, former England batsman Mark Butcher said Mooen’s injury could be “disastrous” for the tourists following the Ben Stokes saga.

See more

Butcher said: “The injury to Finn is not anywhere near as important, it’s unlikely he will be involved in the starting XI at Brisbane. But for England to lose Moeen Ali as well as Ben Stokes would be potentially disastrous for the visiting team.

“England would have to further adjust their batting line-up in order to cope without him, a side injury can be disastrous for bowlers.”

No curfews and ‘sensible’ drinking rules for England players

1 November

England players will not have any curfews but there will be “sensible” rules regarding drinking during the Ashes tour of Australia.

In light of the ongoing investigation into Ben Stokes’ arrest, England coach Trevor Bayliss has said that if the players are going to have a drink, they will know when it’s the right time.

Speaking at the WACA in Perth, where England are preparing for a two-day match against a Western Australia XI, Bayliss told the BBC’s Test Match Special: “Not drinking between matches is just sensible.

“There’s been no set curfews. I think they’re just sensible rulings. To me, they’re what we should be sticking to anyway as a player or someone around a professional set-up. The players have sat down and had a chat and they’re the ones that’ve come up with it.

“We certainly don’t want to put too many curfews on them that keep them in their rooms. It’s a long tour, you’ve got to get out and experience the country that you’re touring.”

See more

England arrived in Australia without Stokes, who is still in the UK. Once the police investigation decides if Stokes will be charged or not, he will then face a Cricket Discipline Commission inquiry. Only then will his Ashes fate be clear.

Despite the Stokes situation, The Times reports that Bayliss and the England players are focusing on winning the series down under - with or without the all-rounder.

“Everyone’s been concentrating on what we need to do to win this series,” said Bayliss. “You lose a player of Ben’s calibre, and it will make a bit of a difference. So we’re going to have to work out a different combination for the first Test… and we’ve got three games to sort that out.

“I’m quite confident we can come up with a team that’s more than capable of winning.”

James Anderson: Gabba result will be vital for Ashes victory

31 October

James Anderson says the result in the first Ashes Test match at The Gabba may prove decisive in this winter’s series in Australia.

England have not won in Brisbane for 31 years and fast bowler Anderson believes a good start is vital for the tourists’ chances. The first Test starts on 23 November.

“Both teams have gone through a transitional phase over the last two years,” Anderson said in an interview with Sky Sports.

“Both teams have started to show signs of real quality I think but have also been pretty inconsistent, so it is going to be about whoever starts well.

“The Gabba has been a bit of a fortress for Australia, they’ve not lost there since 1988 so coming away from there with a result - whether it is a draw or a win - I think is important to how the series will go.”

See more

England have arrived down under and the squad held its first practice session at the Waca in Perth.

Batsman James Vince said he was surprised to get a recall to the England squad, but is determined to take his chance.

“When the call first came in I was a little bit surprised,” the Hampshire captain told the London Evening Standard. “But I hope I can play a part in us winning the Ashes.

“It’s a second chance. I’ve had 12 months away from Test cricket and I was disappointed with how my career started. But this is a great opportunity here to put it right and get myself established in the Test side.”

Meanwhile, Australian wicketkeeping legend Adam Gilchrist has urged his nation’s selectors to make a decision on who will wear the gloves during the Ashes against England.

Three wicketkeepers - Matthew Wade, Peter Nevill and Alex Carey - are in competition for the position and Gilchrist just wants to see faith shown in whoever gets the nod.

See more

“Whoever they pick, they just need to give them a good run at it,” Gilchrist told Australian radio station SEN.

“Say ‘we’ve got to settle here now’. Like they’ve done with [Matthew] Renshaw at the top of the order. He was untried and they threw him in there. He’s had 10 or 11 Tests now.”

Gilchrist, who played 96 Test matches for the Baggy Greens, does not have a preference on which player should be picked, but says that Carey, 26, could be given the gloves.

“I’m hearing a big push for Carey from South Australia,” he said. “He’s slightly younger than the others... I believe he’s a very hard worker and a top team man and a good guy to have around. I’m probably starting to think that it’s more likely that [selectors] might say ‘OK youngster, you’re in’.”

Stuart Broad watches Glenn McGrath YouTube videos for inspiration

26 October

England bowler Stuart Broad has revealed his secret weapon in preparing for the Ashes - watching YouTube videos of Australia bowling legend Glenn McGrath.

During a long and distinguished Test career, McGrath often tormented the English batsman with his pace bowling and accuracy with the ball. This is something that Broad wants to emulate.

Broad told the Daily Mail that watching videos of McGrath is helping him as he prepares to face the Aussies this winter.

“In Australia you have to hit the pitch as hard as you possibly can,” said Broad. “You look at McGrath and he did that consistently. I’ve been watching some YouTube videos of him bowling in Australia, visualising how to get wickets as a tall bowler.

“You have to have periods where you look to rough batsmen up a little bit, sure, but a lot of wickets fall from that fuller length. In the past, if we’ve made a mistake in Australia it’s been to bowl too short, so you get cut and pulled off length.”

See more

Broad added: “This time, I will be making a conscious effort to bring batsmen forward, just like we did as a unit through last summer. Try to expose any movement by getting them on the front foot would be my message.

“Jimmy Anderson and I pride ourselves on adapting to the pitch quicker than the opening batsmen. When you are playing away that’s harder, but we know certain types of bowling can prosper. Ryan Harris had a lot of success in Australia. How? He pitched the ball up at good pace.”

Mitchell Johnson: England can win the Ashes without Ben Stokes

23 October

Former Australia pace bowler Mitchell Johnson believes England can triumph at the Ashes – even without Ben Stokes.

The England all-rounder and Test vice-captain is currently under investigation following his arrest in Bristol last month on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.

Stokes won’t travel with the England squad when they leave for Australia on Saturday, but his Ashes availability will not be confirmed until the police investigation has finished.

Despite the cloud over Stokes’s Ashes chances, Johnson feels that Joe Root’s side can win the series down under.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live, Johnson said: “I don’t think you can read too much into what people are commenting on ‘no Stokes, no England’.

“I think England can win without him. I think at a contest at that high level, anyone can win.

See more

“If you’re Australia, you don’t want to be thinking they can’t win because Stokes isn’t there – that can bite you in the backside pretty quickly.”

Meanwhile, vice-captain David Warner has told Australia’s Channel Nine that he regrets his comments comparing the Ashes with “war”.

Pundits including former England player Marcus Trescothick and captains Geoff Boycott and Michael Vaughan have hit back at the vice-captain over the statement.

“I probably regret some of the words I used during the week, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to try and have some inward anger,” said Warner.

“You’ve got to create a bit of that buzz out there.”

How to watch the Ashes on TV

BT Sport has exclusive rights to the Ashes and will show every ball live from Australia. The broadcaster has announced that Michael Vaughan and Ricky Ponting will join the punditry team alongside Geoffrey Boycott, Adam Gilchrist, Graeme Swann and Damien Fleming.

Graham Gooch wants Joe Root to bat at No. 3 for England

19 October

Former England captain Graham Gooch wants to see current skipper Joe Root bat at No. 3 during the Ashes this winter.

Root batted at four during the summer matches and scored 190 against South Africa at Lord’s. But Gooch told Sky Sports Cricket that Root batting at three is key.

“I do think he should bat at No. 3 and the reason I say that is because we need to make a statement,” said Gooch.

“We cannot have a weak link, we cannot be 25-2 every time. In this line-up, he has to bat at No. 3.

“If we had a regular No. 3 who was successful and had a track record behind him, then [Root] can bat at No. 4, but I don’t see any of the players who are hopefully going to make a name for themselves [James Vince, Dawid Malan and Gary Ballance] batting there.”

See more

Gooch believes Australia are favourites for the Ashes, but England’s chances have not been helped by Ben Stokes’ arrest and ongoing investigation. Stokes is currently suspended and will not fly out to Australia when the England squad leaves the UK on 28 October.

“I don’t think what’s happened over the last few weeks has helped England’s cause at all,” said Gooch.

“The disruption this could cause is going to be difficult to cope with. Stokes is an influential player. He is our third best player, in my opinion - he has a fantastic technique and has made so many improvements with his batting. He would be a great loss.”

How to watch the Ashes on TV

BT Sport has exclusive rights to the Ashes and will show every ball live from Australia. The broadcaster has announced today that Michael Vaughan and Ricky Ponting will join the punditry team alongside Geoffrey Boycott, Adam Gilchrist, Graeme Swann and Damien Fleming.

David Warner tells England to be ready for ‘war’

16 October

David Warner says Australia will be ready for war when they face England in the Ashes series this winter.

Australia’s “chief agitator” - as The Guardian calls him - did not hold back when interviewed by ABC Grandstand ahead of the Ashes, which starts on 23 November with the first Test at The Gabba.

When asked how he psyches himself up for a big game, he said: “As soon as you step on that line it’s war. You try and get into a battle as quick as you can. I try and look in the opposition’s eyes and try and work out: ‘How can I dislike this player? How can I get on top of him?’

“You have to delve and dig deep into yourself to actually get some hatred about them to actually get up when you’re out there. History is a big part in this and that is what carries us on to the ground.”

See more

Meanwhile, Australia skipper Steve Smith has made his first public comment on Ben Stokes - England’s all-rounder who is under investigation after being arrested in Bristol last month.

“Whether he comes or not, that’s out of our control,” Smith told ABC Grandstand. “You always want to come up against the best and test your skills against the best. That’s what Test cricket is all about.

“There’s no doubt Ben Stokes is one of the best players around the world at the moment with the skills he brings to the game.

“I certainly don’t condone that kind of behaviour. Hopefully it never happens to one of our boys. Let’s hope we never cross paths with that.”

Steve Waugh: Ben Stokes would not be picked if he was Australian

13 October

If Ben Stokes was Australian he would not be selected for the Ashes series, says former Australia captain Steve Waugh.

Stokes is currently under investigation after being arrested last month on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm following an incident in Bristol. Although still in the Ashes squad, the England all-rounder won’t travel with the team when they leave for Australia on 28 October.

Former Australia Test star Waugh said that without Stokes England don’t stand a chance of winning the Ashes, which starts on 23 November in Brisbane.

Speaking to Sky Sports Radio in Australia, Waugh said: “If he doesn’t come, I don’t think they can win the Ashes.

See more

“Without Ben Stokes, we’ll win. It’s too much pressure on [Stuart] Broad and [James] Anderson. They’re getting a bit older and I can’t see them playing five Test matches straight. I think Australia will win 3-1.”

Stokes is suspended from international cricket, but his participation in the Ashes won’t be confirmed until the police investigation is complete.

“I think if it was anyone in the Australian side, they wouldn’t be picked,” said Waugh.

“You can’t do that these days in public. It just didn’t look good and it’s a bad image for the game.

“I think they [England selectors] are pretty keen for him to play in Australia... he’s probably their best player, so it would be a real shame if he’s not out here.”

Ben Stokes apologises to Katie Price and son Harvey

12 October

Ben Stokes has broken his silence a fortnight after video footage showed him brawling on a Bristol street to apologise to Katie Price and her disabled son Harvey.

Shortly after the England all-rounder was seen punching a man to the ground after a night on the town, footage emerged allegedly showing Stokes impersonating Price and then Harvey.

The short clip caused outrage with Price calling on her two million Twitter followers to “shame him”, the Daily Express reported at the time.

Stokes, who has been placed under investigation by police after his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm, has so far said nothing publicly about either controversy.

But yesterday evening he posted a message on Twitter that read: “Earlier this year I was shown a clip of Harvey being asked on ‘Loose Women’ how he responds to internet trolls. I loved Harvey’s directness with his response - he said what most of us think but perhaps aren’t brave enough to say, let alone on live TV.

“I foolishly attempted to copy the clip after I saw it a few times. I should never have done this and I am so sorry. It was absolutely not my intention to offend Harvey, Katie or anybody else.”

Stokes said he that he has written to Harvey and Price to apologise and to suggest a meeting “with a view to also getting behind their petition about online bullying. I do hope I can put this right”.

See more

The apology is the first stage in what may be Stokes’ attempt to rehabilitate himself with the British public after his catastrophic fall from grace.

It was announced last week that he will not travel to Australia on 28 October with the rest of the England squad for this winter’s Ashes series until he discovers whether Avon & Somerset Police bring formal assault charges.

While there is still a slim chance he could play a part in the five-Test series, which starts on 23 November, Stokes immediate concern is to repair the damage to his image.

Some sources, including the Daily Mirror, suggest he could lose up to £2million in commercial deals as a result of his behaviour and one sponsor has already terminated its association with Stokes.

In a statement released last night, and reported by The Guardian, sports manufacturer New Balance announced that it “does not condone behaviour by our global athletes that does not match our brand culture and values, and therefore we have ended our relationship with Ben Stokes”.

Ben Stokes should not go to The Ashes says Kevin Pietersen

10 October

Kevin Pietersen believes Ben Stokes should not be included in England’s Ashes squad for the tour of Australia.

Former England star Pietersen, who was part of the Ashes-winning team in 2005, says Stokes’ arrest and the subsequent release of video footage means it would be wrong for the all-rounder to be picked.

With no Stokes in the side it would feel like England were missing “three players”, said the 37-year-old, but the video footage was so “horrendous” Stokes cannot “represent the badge”.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Pietersen said: “I have watched that video a couple of times and I have showed it to some very influential people in the world of business and sport who hadn’t seen it. The more you watch it the more shocking it is.

“I have watched it with some influential leaders in the world of business and the general view was: ‘You cannot represent your country with a video like that going around.’ It is a view I agree with.

“Whether you like it or not, you become someone that people look up to. Someone that kids look up to. You cannot play for your country if you carry on like that. You cannot represent that badge.

See more

“The more that you watch that video, the worse it gets. It is horrible, I can hardly watch the bit at the end, it is horrendous.”

The investigation into Stokes’ actions is still ongoing and last Friday the England and Wales Cricket Board announced Stokes will not travel to Australia “at this stage”, but no decision has been taken on his involvement in the Ashes.

Stokes’ absence would be a blow for England, whose batting line-up was described by Pietersen as an “absolute joke”.

“He is one player,” said Pietersen. “But he is actually three players on that team. Because of his bowling he can turn it on and win you a Test match. His batting, he has had to bat super well over the past 12 months because England’s top order is a complete shambles and in the field he stands at slip for the spinner and he catches everything.

“It is so hard to get a great slip fielder off a spinner. The catches that that bloke takes are phenomenal.

“He is three players in that team. If he was a batsman, different. If he was a bowler, different. You could sort of replace him. But the way that he contributes in all three facets of the game makes him a key part of that squad and that is why I said that.

“It’s staggering the number of times him, [Moeen] Ali and [Jonny] Bairstow have had to help out that top order because they still haven’t found someone who is good enough to play with [Alastair] Cook.

“If Root gets injured or doesn’t score runs, they’d pick [Gary] Ballance again. I mean it is a joke, it is an absolute joke the batsmen that they have in that set-up.”

Mitchell Starc calls on Australia fans to ‘get stuck into the Poms’

9 October

England’s Barmy Army are renowned for being some of the most boisterous fans in sport but Australian bowler Mitchell Starc has called on his country’s supporters to “give it back” to the “Poms” during the Ashes series.

With the Ben Stokes investigation still ongoing, Starc believes the Aussie fans must make some noise if the all-rounder makes the tour or not.

Calling on fans to fight fire with fire, Starc told Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph: “Why not? Go for it. The Aussie boys will be backing you [fans] all the way in.

“You can only imagine [if Stokes comes]. I’d love if he was out here for the Australian crowd to get stuck into him the way the Poms get stuck into our blokes there. Regardless of whether he’s here or not, the atmosphere is going to be great at all the grounds.

“On different characters, people take it differently. For certain guys, if they’re copping it in the crowd they enjoy the banter, they give it back and really enjoy that atmosphere and that banter both ways with the crowd.

“Other guys will go into their shell and it might affect their cricket. I know what’s happened to people. I’ve copped a lot in England as well and I’m sure the Aussie crowd will be giving it back to the Poms like they did to Broady and KP [Stuart Broad and Kevin Pietersen] the last time they were here.”

Ashes 2017 fixtures: Australia vs. England

Ashes Test matches (GMT start times)

  • 23-27 November: 1st Test at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane (midnight GMT)
  • 2-6 December: 2nd Test at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide (day-night Test; 4am)
  • 14-18 December: 3rd Test at the Waca, Perth (2.30am)
  • 25-29 December: 4th Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (11.30pm)
  • 3-7 January: 5th Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (11.30pm)

One-day internationals

  • 14 January: 1st ODI at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (3.20am)
  • 19 January: 2nd ODI at Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane (4.20am)
  • 21 January: 3rd ODI at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (3.20am)
  • 26 January: 4th ODI at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide (3.50am)
  • 28 January: 5th ODI in Perth (venue not yet confirmed; 6.20am)

Ben Stokes won’t travel ‘at this stage’

6 October

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced that due to the ongoing police investigation, at this stage Ben Stokes will not travel to Australia - but no decision has been taken on his involvement in the Ashes.

After he was arrested in Bristol last month, the all-rounder’s actions are being investigated by the Avon & Somerset Police force and the Cricket Discipline Commission.

Because England are due to leave the UK on 28 October and the investigation is expected to last for at least another two weeks, England selectors have added fast bowler Steven Finn to the Ashes squad.

The ECB said in a statement: “England Selectors have added Steven Finn to the squad for the Ashes Tests, in light of the ongoing investigation by Avon & Somerset Police, the Cricket Discipline Commission process and all other considerations.

See more

“Finn will travel to Australia with the England Test team for the full five-match Ashes series, leaving on Saturday 28 October. Ben Stokes will not travel at this stage, though no final decision has been taken on his involvement in Australia.”

England director of cricket Andrew Strauss told the BBC: “We have spoken to Ben and assured him that our decision in no way prejudges the outcome of the ongoing police investigation or cricket discipline commission process, as can be seen by the award of central contracts.”

Stokes was named among a group of eight players who have been awarded Test contracts for 2017-2018 by the ECB. He is also named as one of the 14 players given a central contract for one-day internationals and Twenty20 matches.

See more

Andrew Flintoff is confident of England’s chances

5 October

Andrew Flintoff is so confident about England’s Ashes chances that he says it’s not a case of them winning against Australia, but rather by “how many”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, the former England all-rounder insisted that despite Australia being favourites, the tourists were the better side.

He said: “It’s not a case of England winning - it’s by how many. It’s the type of side you’d want to be involved in, from the coach and the captain down. I think England will have a good winter.

“We’ve got Jimmy Anderson, who is England’s best ever bowler; Alastair Cook, England’s best ever batter. And you throw in the likes of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, who is fantastic - it’s exciting times.”

The Ben Stokes incident is overshadowing England’s preparations, with the Test vice-captain under investigation following his arrest after a nightclub brawl in Bristol last month. He will not know until late October if he will be able to face the Australians.

See more

Flintoff refused to comment on Stokes or the investigation. “He’s such an exciting talent, but so too are many of the England side,” Flintoff said.

“Obviously, there’s a few things going on at the minute. I’ve only seen what everybody else has seen and it’s something that’s being investigated, so I’m not commenting on that.”

Both teams have weaknesses, but it’s up to England to exploit Australia’s, he added. “I see a lot of similarities in the two teams. The transition that both have gone through in the recent past is very similar.

“There are weaknesses in both teams and they’re going to try and exploit ours. It’s our job to try and exploit theirs and cement the cracks we might have. If we can do that, we'll be in a good position.”

Investigation into Ben Stokes incident extended

4 October

The decision of whether England all-rounder Ben Stokes can travel to The Ashes will not be made for at least two more weeks.

Stokes is still under investigation by the police after being arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub. And according to The Times, the 26-year-old will not find out his fate until just days before the England squad leave for Australia on 28 October, at the earliest.

The first Test starts on 23 November at The Gabba in Brisbane.

Vice-captain Stokes remains in the England squad, but the BBC says he will not travel to Australia with his teammates if the investigation has not been concluded.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is holding its own investigation into the nightclub incident, which occurred on 25 September.

Sky Sports says that the delay into the police investigation will come as a blow to the ECB and the sport’s Cricketing Disciplinary Commission.

Meanwhile, Australia will be without fast bowler James Pattinson for the Ashes series. Cricket.com.au says that Pattinson has reaggravated a lower back stress fracture and will take an indefinite break from the game.

Mitchell Starc set to make return from injury

3 October

The Guardian reports that Australian quick bowler Mitchell Starc will feature in domestic one-day cricket down under in preparation for The Ashes series against England.

Starc, who’s been recovering from foot injuries, has not played since June, but he’s been named in New South Wales’s one-day team to play in the Sheffield Shield on Friday.

Australian bowling coach David Saker has confirmed that Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are expected to play in the Sheffield Shield. James Pattinson is still recovering from injury.

Saker says that the bowlers’ performances in the three Sheffield Shield matches could see them selected in the first Test against England at The Gabba.

“Whether the fast bowlers play all three of those we’ll wait and see,” said Saker. “Three Shield games to shape the Australian team – it’s going to be good for everybody.

“Three of them we know are on track. James Pattinson’s had a little setback but we’re not sure how bad at the moment. Josh Hazlewood is on track to play the first Test. Mitchell Starc’s going really well and Patty’s obviously flying.”

“The players that play the first three Shield games, if they put their hand up they’re a chance to grab a spot.”

Ashes 2017 fixtures: Australia vs. England

Ashes Test matches (GMT start times)

  • 23-27 November: 1st Test at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane (midnight GMT)
  • 2-6 December: 2nd Test at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide (day-night Test; 4am)
  • 14-18 December: 3rd Test at the Waca, Perth (2.30am)
  • 25-29 December: 4th Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (11.30pm)
  • 3-7 January: 5th Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (11.30pm)

One-day internationals

  • 14 January: 1st ODI at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (3.20am)
  • 19 January: 2nd ODI at Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane (4.20am)
  • 21 January: 3rd ODI at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (3.20am)
  • 26 January: 4th ODI at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide (3.50am)
  • 28 January: 5th ODI in Perth (venue not yet confirmed; 6.20am)

‘Brexit reversal more likely than a win without Stokes’

2 October

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell says that if Ben Stokes doesn’t play for England in The Ashes against Australia there’s more chance of Brexit being overturned than of the tourists retaining the urn.

Chappell believes that England have no chance of winning down under without all-rounder Stokes, who’s currently suspended after his arrest last week.

The 26-year-old is under investigation from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after video footage allegedly showed him throwing punches in a late-night incident in Bristol. He has been suspended from international cricket until further notice.

Writing on ESPN Cricinfo Chappell said: “With Ben Stokes in the team, England have a realistic chance of retaining the Ashes. If he is missing through suspension following his late-night altercation in Bristol, then there’s more chance of the Brexit decision being reversed than of England clinging to the urn.

“That’s the dilemma facing the England hierarchy. If Stokes is convicted, they will have little choice but to seal his fate. The ECB will then be taking a decision it knows will almost certainly sentence the team to defeat.

“It’s not only Stokes’s skill with bat, ball and in the field that makes a difference to England but also his competitive aura. His match-winning capabilities drag his team-mates along with him, and because he’s not overawed by an opponent, it helps to boost any England player who feels overmatched in Australia. He is a serious difference-maker.”

Even if Stokes does miss out on the tour to Australia, fellow all-rounder Moeen Ali still thinks England can win The Ashes.

When asked if England have a chance even without Stokes, Moeen told the BBC: “Yes, otherwise I feel there’s no point in going out there. If he’s not there, then we’re going to have to play well without him [but] I definitely feel we can still win.”

Nasser Hussain: Ashes will be a ‘circus’ if Ben Stokes goes to Australia

29 September

Former England skipper Nasser Hussain says it’s “almost impossible” for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to include Ben Stokes in the squad for the Ashes tour of Australia.

Vice-captain Stokes was arrested last Monday in Bristol on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and was released without charge. However, video footage emerged of Stokes allegedly throwing punches and he and Alex Hales were yesterday suspended until further notice.

The 26-year-old all-rounder remains in the England Ashes squad, but Hussain says it’s “difficult” to see how Stokes can be included for the tour down under.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Hussain said: “The images in the video that will have been seen around the world are so serious that it looks almost impossible for the ECB to allow him on the plane.

“Probably the only way would be for the police and investigating authorities to say, definitively, that England’s vice-captain is clear of any wrongdoing and this incident is completely behind him.

“Otherwise, you fear that his mind will be in no fit state to face the unique rigours of playing in Australia.

“Not only that, but there is the danger that his whole presence there will turn into a circus. It will be all about Ben Stokes.”

The ECB has referred the internal disciplinary procedure to the Cricket Discipline Commission.

Ben Stokes and Alex Hales suspended until further notice

28 September

The England and Wales Cricket Board has suspended Ben Stokes, the England vice-captain, and Alex Hales from international cricket until further notice.

The pair will miss tomorrow’s final one-day international against the West Indies after video footage emerged which appears to show Stokes fighting in the early hours of Monday morning. Stokes was arrested for suspected actual bodily harm and released without charge.

An ECB statement said: “Ben Stokes and Alex Hales will not be considered for selection for England international matches until further notice.

“Each remains on full pay pending further ECB investigation and the ongoing police investigation into an incident in Bristol in the early hours of Monday, 25 September.

“Andrew Strauss, director of England Cricket, will today refer the internal disciplinary procedure for these two players to the Cricket Discipline Commission, chaired by Tim O’Gorman.

“These decisions, fully supported by ECB chairman Colin Graves, were made following the release of footage viewed by ECB for the first time on Wednesday night.”

Various media reported this morning that Stokes could face being dropped from The Ashes after he was named in England’s 16-man squad yesterday.

The BBC says that the all-rounder, 26, is believed to be “fragile and devastated” and has apologised after his arrest.

Ben Stokes faces Ashes axe after video emerges of brawl

28 September

Ben Stokes’ Ashes hopes hang in the balance after video footage emerged of the England cricketer allegedly throwing punches during an incident that saw him arrested in Bristol.

The all-rounder was yesterday named in the 16-man Ashes squad to face Australia, but after the video footage was published by The Sun, it seems that he could face the axe by England selectors.

The Sun reports that Stokes will be dropped as vice-captain while the Daily Mail says that his England future is “in jeopardy”.

See more

The incident happened in the early hours of Monday morning after England’s victory over the West Indies in Bristol. Stokes was arrested for suspected actual bodily harm and released without charge.

It was also reported by the Sun that Stokes broke a hand in the fight and the Mail said yesterday that England director of cricket Andrew Strauss has “promised action against any player found guilty of unacceptable behaviour”.

Meanwhile former England star Kevin Pietersen has said the tourists should “cancel their flights” to Australia after commenting about the Ashes squad selection and watching the alledged video of Stokes.

He tweeted: “Oh no! Just seen tomorrow’s front page and video! Cancel England’s flights please!”

See more

England name Ben Stokes in 16-man squad for The Ashes

27 September

England cricket selectors have named the 16-man Test squad for the Ashes tour of Australia which starts in November.

The squad has been announced on ecb.co.uk - and uncapped trio Surrey wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, Somerset fast bowler Craig Overton and Hampshire leg-spinner Mason Crane are included for the first time.

Despite his arrest following an incident in Bristol, Ben Stokes is included, while Hampshire batsman James Vince is recalled. Sky Sports reports that the ECB has confirmed Stokes will remain as England Test vice-captain.

National selector James Whitaker said: “A tour of Australia is the ultimate test for our squad. We have provided [captain] Joe Root and [coach] Trevor Bayliss with a well-balanced squad with options in all areas.

“After a successful summer, having won the Test series against South Africa and West Indies, there is real competition for places and we have selected a squad that will work hard and compete against Australia, aiming to win the Ashes.

See more

“Surrey’s Ben Foakes deserves his selection for the first time at this level. His glovework has been exemplary and he is regarded as a wicketkeeper of the highest quality.

“He has the ability to contribute with the bat scoring over 680 runs in the Championship this summer at an average of 45.33.

“Craig Overton, who like Foakes has come through the International Pathway, has been involved in the England set-up this summer with the Lions and the IT20 squad. He will now get his chance at Test level.

“We have been impressed with the way he has led Somerset’s attack over a long period of time. He has taken 43 Championship wickets this summer and will relish playing in Australian conditions.

“The selectors are backing James Vince to make an impact on his recall to the Test squad. He is a quality strokeplayer and we believe his game will suit the Australian pitches. His understanding of the England set-up will help him settle into the environment quickly and hit the ground running when we arrive in Perth next month.”

England squad for The Ashes

Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

Australia batting is fragile, says Nasser Hussain

26 September

Former England skipper Nasser Hussain says Australia’s fragile batting order and the form of wicketkeeper Matthew Wade are two major weak points the home side face ahead of the Ashes series.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Hussain says that England, who will name their Ashes squad tomorrow morning, must exploit these weaknesses if they are to defend the famous urn down under.

Praising David Warner and Steve Smith, Hussain says that while the Australians are tough to beat on their own pitches, they do have concerns going into the series.

“Australia have got two great players in their top three or four in David Warner and Steve Smith and if all their bowlers are fit – and that’s a big if – they have an excellent attack,” he said.

“Their other great strength is playing at home with the Kookaburra ball in their conditions. Not many sides go to Australia and win.”

Hussain also said that Australia have their weaknesses: “The rest of their batting is incredibly fragile – at least England have a formidable lower middle order – and Matthew Wade is flakey with bat and gloves. Pressure will grow on him if he starts the series poorly.”

Hussain predicted that Mark Stoneman had earned his spot on the squad to partner England opener Alastair Cook.

“Not only has Mark Stoneman done enough to start in Brisbane but at times he has looked pretty good,” he said.

“The only shot he will have to be careful with is that little back foot punch he tried to play in the last Test at Lord’s and nicked it. There will be extra bounce in Australia. I like the tempo of his batting and he looks a more natural player than someone like Keaton Jennings.”

James Vince to be named in England squad

25 September

Hampshire batsman James Vince is set to receive a shock call-up to the England squad for this winter’s Ashes tour of Australia.

England will announce their Ashes squad on Wednesday morning and The Times reports that Vince will make the cut and Somerset fast bowler Craig Overton is a possible inclusion.

Seam bowler Toby Rowland-Jones will be missing from the Ashes squad, says The Guardian, due to a stress fracture in his lower back. He will now miss the rest of the domestic season.

The Times’ cricket writer Steve James says that Nottinghamshire’s Jake Ball is “almost certain” to take the place of Rowland-Jones and that Overton could be preferred to Middlesex’s Steven Finn.

Picking his possible England Ashes squad, Jones also includes Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance, the uncapped leg-spinner Mason Crane and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.

See more

Meanwhile, also in The Times, Australia skipper Steve Smith says his team’s performances this year have been “unacceptable”.

Following Australia’s third one-day loss in a row against India, Smith urged his side to turns things around, and quickly, before they host England.

“It’s a different format [to the Ashes] but I’d certainly like to start winning some games of cricket in every format to be honest,” said Smith.

“It’s pretty ordinary. Not good enough for an Australian cricket team and we need to start turning the results around and winning some games.”

Alex Hales likely to miss out on squad

22 September

England have confirmed the Ashes squad will be announced next Wednesday - and it could be bad news for Alex Hales.

The London Evening Standard reports Hales is likely to miss out on The Ashes, which start on 23 November at The Gabba in Brisbane.

Nottinghamshire batsman Hales was thought to be a contender for a spot on the plane, but the Standard says his ability to cope with the short ball means he will be overlooked.

The Standard also says England will opt for Dawid Malan - and Tom Westley will retain his place. But Westley’s No. 3 spot in the order could come under threat from Gary Ballance or Keaton Jennings.

In the bowling department, Yahoo reports, there are injury concerns for seamer Toby Roland-Jones who has had scans of his back.

See more

Meanwhile, Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins is excited at the prospect of making his home Test debut in the first match against England.

After a series of injuries, Cummins has only played six Tests for the Baggy Greens, all away, but looks an automatic choice for The Gabba.

It was announced that Cummins will miss the Twenty20 series in India in order to return to Australia and prepare for the Ashes. He will rest for three weeks then play in the Sheffield Shield.

When asked about the prospect of making his home Test debut, and against England, Cummins told cricket.com.au: “More than anything, [I’m excited about] playing my first Test in Australia.

“I haven’t really even been close to playing a Test in Australia so knowing in a couple of months that I could be playing at the Gabba in an Ashes Test, it’d be pretty crazy.

“I’m trying to get through this series and after that, all the focus will be on the Ashes and playing those first three Shield games. I’m pretty pumped.”

Joe Root is Australia’s No. 1 target

21 September

Andrew Strauss has warned England captain Joe Root he will be Australia’s No. 1 target in this winter’s Ashes series.

Root will captain England in the Ashes for the first time and Strauss - who was skipper in the 2010-2011 series victory down under - said it was important for the 26-year-old to understand that he will live in a “great big bubble” for two or three months.

“They know he is England’s best player so if they keep him quiet then that’s going to undermine him as captain as well,” England director of cricket Strauss told BBC Sport.

“It will hit you from the moment you arrive. You’re in a great big bubble for two or three months and as captain you are a lightning rod for any comments that may come your way and you’re responsible for the performance of the team.

“Managing your energy levels is important - getting away from it by playing golf or spending time with your family.”

Having taken over from Alastair Cook in February, Root has impressed Strauss with both his captaincy skills and his batting.

“I think he has done brilliantly well,” said Strauss. “He’s our best batsman and it hasn’t affected his batting.

“I think he’s shown he is prepared to be his own man and do things his own way. He’s looked comfortable in his own skin.”

Ashes 2017 fixtures: Australia vs. England

Ashes Test matches (GMT start times)

  • 23-27 November: 1st Test at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane (midnight GMT)
  • 2-6 December: 2nd Test at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide (day-night Test; 4am)
  • 14-18 December: 3rd Test at the Waca, Perth (2.30am)
  • 25-29 December: 4th Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (11.30pm)
  • 3-7 January: 5th Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (11.30pm)

One-day internationals

  • 14 January: 1st ODI at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (3.20am)
  • 19 January: 2nd ODI at Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane (4.20am)
  • 21 January: 3rd ODI at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (3.20am)
  • 26 January: 4th ODI at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide (3.50am)
  • 28 January: 5th ODI in Perth (venue not yet confirmed; 6.20am)

Mark Stoneman ‘ready’ to face Australia

20 September

England’s all-time leading Test batsman Alastair Cook believes Mark Stoneman is the right man to join him at the crease against Australia in The Ashes.

With 11,629 runs in 137 Test matches, Cook has been a mainstay at the top of the England batting order, but after 12 opening partners in five years finding a suitable foil has been a struggle for the selectors.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Cook says Stoneman - who is nicknamed Rocky - offers something “slightly different” to the other openers and should get the call for the first Ashes Test at The Gabba.

See more

“I like Mark. I really like Mark,” said Cook. “I think out of all of them - and I don’t mean this disrespectfully to the guys who’ve played - Mark seems to have a lot of good stuff. He seems to have fewer weaknesses, which in international cricket get exploited very quickly now; quicker than it was when I started.

“The level of analysis. The feedback is so quick they can hone in on a weakness probably within one or two innings. And social media is so intense everything’s out there right away.

“I like Rocky. I think Rocky’s slightly different. He’s a bit older, he’s seen a lot more. And the big move for him was coming down to Surrey. Four years of a thousand runs or more at Durham. Coming down to Surrey on a big money move - if that makes sense in cricket - straight away, he delivered. He’s ready. I think he’s going to be good.”

Australia batting line-up ‘worries’ Michael Slater

18 September

Former Australia star Michael Slater says that the current Test team relies too much on captain Steve Smith and opening batsman David Warner.

With just two months until The Ashes starts at The Gabba, the Baggy Greens’ lack of runs from the middle-order batsmen is a cause of concern for Slater.

Reported by cricket.com.au, Slater said: “I’m worried about our side - it still relies on Warner, Smith. [Peter] Handscomb is at five, [Glenn] Maxwell’s got to shine. There’s a lot of interest there. [Matthew] Wade as ’keeper, he’s got to start scoring runs.”

Although Maxwell has been in and out of the side, Slater believes the 28-year-old Victorian all-rounder should be included in the side for first Ashes Test.

“They’ve got to stick with [Maxwell] because it takes some time,” said Slater. “Not every player comes in and performs first Test. He’s played a handful [of Test matches] now, the selectors have got to go with him and certainly for the first Test in the Ashes.”

See more

Handscomb, who averages 53.07, says that the pressure is on the Australian batsmen to perform or they risk losing their place in the site.

“The moment you start feeling comfortable and safe in your spot is when your performances start to decline,” Handscomb told cricket.com.au.

“You get into that comfortable headspace and you’re not really pushing yourself.

“The beauty about Australian cricket is that it is so strong and there are 10, 15, 20 batters waiting in the wings for anyone to make a mistake in the Australian team and take their spot.

“I feel happy with what I’ve been doing and I feel like I belong in the team at the moment but it’s a fickle game and can change pretty quickly.”

See more

Meanwhile, Sky Sports cricket pundit Rob Key believes that Alex Hales can use the one-day international series against the West Indies as an “audition” for The Ashes.

England’s first ODI starts tomorrow against the Windies at Old Trafford and Key says that if Hales fires he could be on the plane down under.

“Alex Hales has gone up a notch as far as his attacking batting is concerned this season,” said Key.

“We used to see Jason Roy as the one getting off to a flyer and then Hales catching up but now he finds sixth gear very early. He has been hammering it from ball one in T20, so it will be interesting to see if he carries on in the 50-over format.

“You have a bit more time to bed into ODIs - and that could help Hales’ hopes of an Ashes spot. More of his technique, more of his temperament will be on display in these games and if he fires, he might well be on the plane to Australia. The same goes for Jos Buttler.”

It’s England’s ‘time as a team’, says Stuart Broad

13 September

Stuart Broad believes Australia will provide dangerous opposition in the upcoming Ashes series but it’s England’s “time as a team” to shine down under.

In 10 weeks’ time England will face the Baggy Greens at The Gabba in the first Test and Broad is confident the tourists are prepared for a tough Ashes series on different pitches.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Broad said: “I like the pitches, I feel I know the fields for plan A and B, but this is our time as a team.

“We’ve been building for a while and we’ve got experience but also middle ones, guys who have played 35-45 Tests, and that is when you learn as a player how to get your team out of trouble or how to put your foot on the throat. We just need to get out of the Gabba with something.”

Broad also said he was excited to play in front of the notoriously rowdy Aussie crowds - starting with the first Test at the 42,000-capacity ground in Woolloongabba.

“I think as an England player you’d be disappointed if you didn’t get stick at the Gabba - that’s gone on for years,” he said.

“But I love all that, you’re in the battle straight away and it sort of helps me as a cricketer. I seem to thrive off the extra spice and there will be a bit of that.”

Meanwhile, spin legend Shane Warne says Glenn Maxwell can provide the “X-factor” batting at number six for Australia and should be picked for the first Test at the Gabba.

Speaking to Sky Sports and reported by the Courier-Mail, Warne said: “Maxwell is the X-factor at number six. He’s tightened his technique up a little bit and can really get hold of you.”

Ashes 2017 fixtures: Australia vs. England

Ashes Test matches (GMT start times)

  • 23-27 November: 1st Test at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane (midnight GMT)
  • 2-6 December: 2nd Test at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide (day-night Test; 4am)
  • 14-18 December: 3rd Test at the Waca, Perth (2.30am)
  • 25-29 December: 4th Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (11.30pm)
  • 3-7 January: 5th Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (11.30pm)

One-day internationals

  • 14 January: 1st ODI at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (3.20am)
  • 19 January: 2nd ODI at Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane (4.20am)
  • 21 January: 3rd ODI at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (3.20am)
  • 26 January: 4th ODI at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide (3.50am)
  • 28 January: 5th ODI in Perth (venue not yet confirmed; 6.20am)

England planning starts now for tour to Australia

11 September

After completing a 2-1 series victory over the West Indies, England players, coaching team and fans are now looking ahead to the winter Ashes series against Australia.

While the three-day victory in the third Test secured a comfortable series win against the Windies, there are still a number of big decisions for England coach Trevor Bayliss and captain Joe Root to ponder.

From the batting line-up to choosing a second spinner, there’s certainly plenty of work for England to do before the first Ashes Test starts in Brisbane on November 23.

We take a look at the biggest talking points ahead of the 2017 Ashes series:

Root: England can do ‘something special’ down under

The nine-wicket victory over the West Indies at Lord’s may not give the best indication of how the Ashes will unfold, but England captain Root believes his side can do “something special” in Australia.

“I keep saying there are plenty of challenges lying ahead but with those challenge come great opportunities,” Root told The Daily Telegraph.

“We have done some good stuff this summer and we should not be afraid of going there and performing at our best and doing something special.

“We have all the attributes to go down there put in strong performances and get good results but it is about approaching this next period really wisely. We start preparing now ahead of things and so when we get to Australia we are already one step ahead of where we might have been if we didn’t.”

See more

Beefy: England will go for experience

England legend Ian Botham says that an Ashes tour is not the right place to pick rookies.

He told Sky Sports: “Australia is not the place to wander down and learn quickly – you don’t, you’ve really got to fight it out down there.

“Batting-wise I think they will stay with the more experienced players and maybe the same with the bowlers, with possibly a couple of young players.

“I feel Mark Stoneman will go to Australia – he has been around a while, he is organised and he knows his own game.”

In The Times Mike Atherton writes that England’s selectors will wait until the last minute to announce the Ashes squad.

He says England’s chances could rest on the performances of the team’s backbone – Joe Root, James Anderson, Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad.

Atherton writes: “Root has had one modest tour of Australia, Cook has had two indifferent and one outstanding series, while Broad has 23 wickets at 32.13 and Anderson 43 wickets at 38.44. It is a hard tour no matter how good or experienced a team go to Australia.”

England’s fielding must improve

In The Guardian, England coach Bayliss talked up the chances of an Ashes victory, providing his side’s fielding improves. After so many dropped catches against the Windies, Bayliss said England’s performances in the field had been terrible.

“We are not going over there to make up the numbers,” said Bayliss. “We are going to leave here with a view to win. It is as simple as that.

“[However] the fielding always concerns me. The catching has been terrible. Some of the drops were quite easy and to me that is usually down to concentration. We are certainly not going to go [to Australia] and win anything dropping that many.”

Who will bat where for England?

Writing in The Times, Steve James says England have two months to settle on their batting line-up.

He asks who will be Alastair Cook’s opening partner? James believes Stoneman has probably done enough to get the nod, but England will need to take another opening batting option. Will it be Keaton Jennings or Haseeb Hameed?

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew agrees that Stoneman did his chances of selection “a lot of good” against the West Indies.

But Agnew says that Tom Westley’s place in the squad is the one he doubts the most. Agnew added: “Put simply, I do not believe he is good enough to bat at number three.”

See more

The seamers and spinners

Times writer James states that Anderson, Broad, Chris Woakes and Toby Roland-Jones will “surely go” to Australia, but who else? Mark Wood is an “obvious answer” said James, but will the selectors also pick Jake Ball?

In the spinning department will England pick an uncapped player such as Mason Crane or Jack Leach to partner Moeen Ali? Or will they return to Adil Rashid?

Let Stokes loose in Australia

The Daily Telegraph’s Scyld Berry wants to see Ben Stokes given the freedom to go for big scores. Berry says that “if England can get three centuries out of Stokes this winter, they will surely win or at least secure the draw that retains the Ashes”.

For that to happen, Stokes must not be allowed to bowl too much, says Berry.

Ashes 2017 fixtures: Australia vs. England

Ashes Test matches (GMT start times)

  • 23-27 November: 1st Test at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane (midnight GMT)
  • 2-6 December: 2nd Test at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide (day-night Test; 4am)
  • 14-18 December: 3rd Test at the Waca, Perth (2.30am)
  • 25-29 December: 4th Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (11.30pm)
  • 3-7 January: 5th Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (11.30pm)

One-day internationals

  • 14 January: 1st ODI at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (3.20am)
  • 19 January: 2nd ODI at Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane (4.20am)
  • 21 January: 3rd ODI at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (3.20am)
  • 26 January: 4th ODI at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide (3.50am)
  • 28 January: 5th ODI in Perth (venue not yet confirmed; 6.20am)

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.