It’s not the strongest squad England have taken for Ashes: Michael Atherton
Michael Atherton added that even Australia will be a little out of touch ahead of Ashes.
Updated - Oct 11, 2021 4:30 pm
Earlier, the England Cricket Board (ECB) announced a 17-member squad for its scheduled Ashes series Down Under. The high-octane five-match Test series will begin on December 8 in Brisbane. Test skipper Joe Root had stated they will field a full-strength team during the five-Test matches. But England squad sees some notable exclusions in the form of Ben Stokes and Sam Curran, who are out of the squad due to mental health and injury, respectively.
Former England captain Michael Atherton feels the squad selected for the Ashes does not look threatening but he also added that Australia too doesn’t look dangerous apart from having potent pace bowlers in their arsenal. Apart from Stokes and Curran, even speedster Jofra Archer is not part of the Ashes squad due to a recurring elbow injury. Hence Atherton has some reservations about how England’s side looks for the Ashes series against Australia.
“It’s not the strongest squad England have taken to Australia – nor is it the weakest,” Atherton wrote in his column for The Times. co. uk. “Australia might be so described as well, strong as they are in bowling but less so in batting.”
“Any doubts over England’s prospects are tempered to some extent by doubts in Australia’s camp, where much rest on the form of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, and the fitness of the main three fast bowlers: Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, and Mitchell Starc.”
Michael Atherton reckons Australia might be rusty because of a long gap in Tests
Australia last played a Test series versus India in 2020-21. Since those four Tests, a lot has changed as head coach Justin Langer’s job came under scrutiny. Also, few questions were raised about David Warner’s poor form during that close to one-year cycle. Atherton feels with some lack of game time and off-field issues, Australia might be rusty leading up to the Ashes series.
“Quite what degree of readiness Australia’s players will be in is anyone’s guess because they have played no test cricket since being beaten at home by a second-string India team nine months ago,” Atherton said.
“There have been rumblings about the coach, Justin Langer, since then and David Warner’s place will come under scrutiny if he starts badly. Beyond the main bowlers, the threat recedes.”