The Ashes 2017-18, 1st Test: England's predicted XI

The Ashes 2017-18, 1st Test: England’s predicted XI

With their talismanic all-rounder, Ben Stokes missing out, there seems to be an irreplaceable void created in their team.

James Anderson
James Anderson and Joe Root of England set the field placements. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

A series which promises a lot more than just entertainment, The Ashes, is back and this time around, it’ll be the Aussies who’ll have the home advantage. Touted as the greatest rivalry in cricketing history, England, and Australia coming together on the field is always exciting and the emotions often ride high.

The English had to deal with a lot of off-field issues before entering the land of Kangaroos. With their talismanic all-rounder, Ben Stokes missing out, there seems to be an irreplaceable void created in their team. He belongs to that category of players who win games on regular basis and certainly, it’s a huge blow for Joe Root.

This shifts the onus towards Moeen Ali, who is surprisingly very under-rated. Although he is as good an all-rounder as any in the world, the lad always remained under the shadow of Stokes. If England are to make the Aussies totter, they’ll have to pounce hard on them collectively. The memories of their previous tour Down Under might haunt them, but being the under-dogs currently might provide some assistance.

Openers – Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman

The highly experienced Alastair Cook will be their mainstay in the batting department without a shadow of a doubt. Accompanying him will be Mark Stoneman, who made a late entry into the International circuit, but is making it count with good performances. Facing the Aussie music won’t get easy for them and a lot will depend on how these both combat Hazlewood and Starc with the new ball.

Middle order – Gary Ballance, Joe Root, Dawid Malan

Barring the disciplinary issues, Gary Ballance is an outstanding batsman. He might be taking the crucial number 3 spot considering his brilliant record against big teams like India and South Africa. Skipper Joe Root will be taking the iconic number 4 slot and certainly, he needs to amass tons of runs if England are to leave the country with the Urn.

At number 5, the youngster Dawid Malan will take charge and this will be the lad’s first Ashes. The pressure will mount on this middle order if the openers fall in the trap quickly. This is the best combination with which they can enter to throw a fight to the Aussies and their temperament will be tested vociferously.

Wicketkeeper – Jonny Bairstow

Hands down the best number 6 batsman in the world right now, Jonny Bairstow has no other choice but to continue his good run in this iconic clash. Bairstow finished as one of the highest run-scorers last year despite batting at number 6 and 7. He is one such player who never lets the skipper down, let it be whilst keeping or batting. He’s excellent against the spin and Nathan Lyon will not have an easy time dealing with him.

All-rounders – Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes

One of the finesh all-rounder in the world, Moeen Ali, has big shoes to fill. Stokes absense might be his blessing in disguise to hog some limelight, which he well and truly deserves. He’ll be their lone spinner in the playing XI and he’s flexible when it comes to his batting position. Chris Woakes can be a stubborn batsman at number 8, which just about puts him in the list of all-rounders. Yet, his main role will be in assisting the three mainstream fast bowlers.

Fast bowlers – James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tom Curran

The greatest bowling pair of the century, James Anderson and Stuart Broad together have ripped apart so many legendary lineups. The uncrowned king of English cricket, Anderson recently surpassed the 500 wicket barrier, becoming only the 6th bowler in the history to do so. Broad is inching closer towards the coveted 400 wicket mark, which will confirm his status as one of the game’s finest prospects.

Youngster Tom Curran might finally be making his Test debut after staying on the bench for long. The tall, lanky pacer will be a great addition on tracks like the Gabba. He can make the batters wobble with the extra bounce he extracts. This trio is tad better than the Aussie fast bowling contingent, but only on paper.