England's possible line-up for first Ashes Test against Australia

11 November 2017 06:54

England begin their Ashes defence in less than two weeks and who will start in Brisbane is a hot topic.

Not every position is nailed down, as has been the case for the last 18 months or so, but here, Press Association Sport looks at the possible line-up and the thinking behind it.

1. Alastair Cook: As near as being the first name on the team-sheet as a former captain can be. Cook has won the Ashes as a player and a skipper and, as England's leading Test runscorer, will be the rock on which they hope to build.

2. Mark Stoneman: There were doubts over the Surrey man after a patchy summer and it was felt by some he was an option in lieu of someone in better form. However, he has performed well on tour so far, scoring three 50s from as many attempts and his spot has never looked safer.

3. James Vince: Now the questions start. Vince was a surprise pick on tour after failing to make a 50 in 11 innings during the first stage of his Test career. England have struggled for opening partnerships of late so the chances are Vince will be in early. He needs to be ready.

4. Joe Root: The captain and star man, Root will feel pressure like never before. His run-scoring is beyond reproach, even if his conversion rate is not. England will need him to go big, and likely more than once, if they are to return with the urn. As a captain, the tests have already started with deputy Ben Stokes absent and his bowling arsenal falling apart through injury.

5. Dawid Malan: Much like Stoneman, a lack of a cast-iron alternative means he is likely to get the nod after an unconvincing summer. Gary Ballance is on tour and may challenge for the spot - and provide a back-up should he waver.

6. Jonny Bairstow: Brilliant for the majority of his second-coming as a Test cricketer, runs were harder to come by for him over the summer against South Africa and West Indies. No-one doubts his place but as one of just three dead-cert names in the England top six, he must deliver.

7. Moeen Ali: So often a lower-order hero for England, Moeen gave his country a scare when he injured his side shortly after landing. His spin may not play too big a part but his batting and experience surely will.

8. Chris Woakes: Injured for most of the summer, Woakes is the man England will look to as a pseudo Stokes. He is not as fiery, but bats well and his bowling is under-rated as evidenced by a stellar showing against Cricket Australia.

9. Stuart Broad: Another Ashes veteran and a quick bowler with the ability to destroy Aussie line-ups, as shown with his 8-15 at Trent Bridge in 2015. He is a man they fear and Root will rely on not just his bowling but his leadership and personality.

10. James Anderson: England's all-time leading wicket-taker, a member of the 500 club and now vice captain. There will be 100 Australian wickets up for grabs and England will rely on Anderson to take a fair percentage. He will likely deliver.

11 Craig Overton: The last man standing of England's 'other' quicks with Steve Finn and Jake Ball having gone down injured, Overton should see off the presence of Tom Curran to start as the fourth seamer. His height will be an advantage but a lack of international experience will need to be overcome.

Source: PA