Ashes Composite XI

My composite Ashes XI with reasoning and justification. Also some photographs.


A common feature of final days of series is the selection of a composite XI based on performances in said series. This is my effort for the current Ashes series. I am going to name my team in batting order first and then explain/amplify/justify these selections.


My team in batting order (England player names in dark blue, Aus in green):

  1. Alastair Cook
  2. David Warner
  3. Dawid Malan
  4. Steven Smith (Captain)
  5. Shaun Marsh
  6. Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)
  7. Mitchell Marsh
  8. Mitchell Starc
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Jimmy Anderson


The openers need no justification – the only major contribution from an opener not named Warner in the series was Cook’s monumental innings at the MCG. Number three is a thorny one. James Vince has demonstrated clearly that he does not belong there, and his huge score here at the SCG notwithstanding I remain skeptical about Usman Khawaja, hence my decision to promote England’s leading run scorer in the series to a position he occupies for his county. Number four, and with it the captaincy was the easiest selection of the whole lot. Shaun Marsh has not put a foot wrong since being called up to replace the inadequate Handscomb at number 5, and I regarded him as a must pick. Jonny Bairstow and Tim Paine have both had good series with the gloves, but I have opted for Bairstow as definitely the superior batsman. Mitchell Marsh has had a magnificent series, and was an absolute shoe-in at number 7, especially as Moeen Ali has had a terrible series – he has batted poorly in every match and his bowling average reads like a Bradman batting average. Of the specialist bowlers I have picked those at number 8,9 and 10 in the batting order are absolute stand outs. Number 11 was tricky, since Anderson with virtually no support has had a good series, and the better supported Hazlewood as also had a fine series. Accepting that even were it possible vivisection is not permissible (though ‘Anderwood’ is only one letter removed from a former test great!) I have opted for Anderson as I rate his the greater achievement. 


Looking at the makeup of the team (and accepting that Hazlewood for Anderson and Khawaja for Malan would both be valid changes), Australian picks predominate in both batting and bowling, though it is especially the bowling, which in my team comes out at 4-1 (including all-rounder Mitchell Marsh) to Australia and is reality more like 4.3-0.7 (rating my selection of Anderson over Hazlewood as a 70:30 pick) which has split the sides. England have collected barely more than half of the 100 wickets that were available to them at the start of the series, whereas Australia assuming that they take the six England wickets that remain in this match will have managed 90, failing to take 20 opposition wickets only on the MCG pitch. 


I always like to include a few photographs in my blog posts, so I end with these recently taken pictures:

The first five pictures were taken while walking to the Scout Hut on Beulah Street for Musical Keys yesterday.


These last four pictures were taken in Fakenham on Thursday.



England on the Brink


Just a very quick post this time – a brief account of the second day’s play in the fourth test match between England and Australia.


Bad light has just ended the second day’s play with England 3 wickets away from regaining the ashes. The last time England won an ashes match in two days was in 1890, while Australia did it in 1921. Five second innings wickets for Ben Stokes lit up the latter stages of the second day. While a mid-series change is unlikely it is hard to see Michael Clarke’s tenure as Aussie captain lasting beyond the denouement at the Oval. Right from the start of play yesterday, when Aus were 10-3 after eight balls this match has progressed at ludicrous speed, but given the circumstances the craziest passage of play of the lot was just before tea today when Australia gave four wickets away in the twinkling of an eye. Adam Voges has to his name the highest score of the series by an Aussie batting at 4, 5 or 6 with 48 not out.

What both this match and its predecessor at Edgbaston have amply demonstrated is that the current Aussie side is full of ‘flat track bullies’ – they can score colossally when the ball isn’t doing anything (witness a combined tally of 820-10 in their two innings at Lord’s) but as soon as there is sideways movement they cannot cope.

Shaun Marsh, who replaced his brother Mitchell for this game to strengthen the batting twice threw his wicket away for next to nothing, creating the prospect of a baton pass from brother to brother back to brother in as many matches.

My final word for today is this: congratulations to the Trent Bridge groundsman for producing a wicket on which both bowlers and batsmen had a fair chance of success. We have had two days of superb entertainment.