Ashes squad to be sorted before dust settles on whirlwind England win
England will move swiftly on from a whirlwind finish against Ireland by naming their squad for the first Ashes Test on Saturday morning.
Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad had barely completed their ruthless demolition of the Irish batting line-up – sharing all 10 wickets as they were wiped out for just 38 in an incredible 94 deliveries – when the final selection meeting began at Lord’s.
Captain Joe Root and head coach Trevor Bayliss went straight from toasting the 143-run victory – though more in relief than outright celebration – to thrashing out their plans for Australia at Edgbaston next week.
Most of the XI that took on Ireland will be included but there must also be omissions. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, rested this week following their heroics in the World Cup final, will return and James Anderson’s niggling calf problem is not expected to keep him on the sidelines again.
The player most likely to miss the cut entirely from the winning team was the one who was named man of the match against the Irish. Jack Leach picked up the honours for his nightwatchman’s knock of 92 but his left-arm spin will probably not be required in Birmingham.
England also have a decision to make over their top three, with Jason Roy having done enough on debut to retain his spot but Rory Burns a major concern at opener. He made six in each innings to lower his average to 22 in seven Test appearances, while Joe Denly has yet to provide definitive proof of his pedigree.
There is also a call to make on Jofra Archer, England’s leading wicket-taker in the World Cup and the man who held his nerve in the super over against New Zealand. He took two wickets for Sussex in a Vitality T20 Blast tie with Surrey on Friday evening after cutting short his break in Barbados.
The 24-year-old had been battling a side problem but informed the ECB he felt in good condition. Whether the selection panel gambles on him for the first match of the series is uncertain, but it is a question of when, not if, he makes his bow.
“We’ve got a pretty good idea of where we’re at and what we want to go with,” said Root, fresh from the manic final session against Ireland.
“It’s always difficult when you’ve only got one Test going into a five-match series to make huge calls. We will be very calculated in how we go about selecting the team and the squad.
“We tried to be quite smart about resting a few guys for this Test to make sure they were absolutely ready.”
The demands of an intense five-match series against Australia so close on the back of the once-in-a-lifetime World Cup glory at Lord’s are sure to be considerable, but Root put on a stoic front as he surveyed the coming challenge.
“It’s been 10 weeks of hard cricket, of high emotion and of ups and downs and that does take a lot out of you. But I felt like I’d planned for what we had coming.
“You have to suck it up and get on with it. It’s not been perfect but we’ve dealt with it pretty well.”