A high-profile series like the Ashes can be the ticket to cricketing folklore. As the playing XIs of England and Australia line-up at Trent Bridge for the first Test on Wednesday, Osman Samiuddin looks at some of the names expected to shine.
Joe Root England have been known in recent years for not tinkering too much with the playing XIs. Nick Compton has been a successful opening partner for Alastair Cook since Andrew Strauss’s retirement last year. But so excited are they by the prospect of Joe Root opening, they decided to dump Compton and push up the middle order batsman.
Darren Lehmann Strictly speaking there will not be much to watch as Lehmann will mostly be found on the players‘ balcony. He is a fascinating prospect as rookie coach. He has done well with his state side, but international cricket – and the Ashes at that – is a different planet altogether. His performances will be one of the key continuing themes through the summer.
James Anderson Do not watch Anderson just to see how many wickets he takes, or how many match-turning spells he bowls. Watch him for the sake of watching him because he is a lovely fast bowler and probably England’s finest paceman of the last 20 years. He is in his best form, fit, smart and able to do wondrous things with new ball and old.
Brad Haddin Haddin’s return to the Australian Test side, is, in a way, emblematic of their late-decade decline. He had not played a Test for 14 months until he returned to play the last Test against India in March. Now he is vice-captain on this tour, elevated to bring some experience and steel in a young line-up. But he has only ever played in a losing Ashes side.
James Pattinson Younger brother of Darren, who famously was called up out of the blue to play a Test for England in 2008 and equally infamously, discarded immediately after. Darren was also a fast bowler but James is a sturdier, far more exciting prospect. He can swing the ball late, bowls a muscly kind of delivery and has the kind of traits that English conditions reward.