List of likely XIs for first Ashes Test

HOW THE TEAMS SHAPE UP FOR THE ASHES SERIES OPENER IN CARDIFF

LIKELY AUSTRALIAN XI

CHRIS ROGERS

Age: 37

Tests: 20

Ashes Tests: 10

Playing role: Left-handed batsman

Test batting average: 39.35

Ashes batting average: 43.68

Nobody in the squad has more experience in English conditions. The veteran’s farewell tour hasn’t exactly gone to plan so far – he was concussed in the Caribbean and missed both Tests there, then was embroiled in a ticket saga.

DAVID WARNER

Age: 28

Tests: 38

Ashes Tests: 8

Playing role: Left-handed batsman

Test batting average: 46.82

Ashes batting average: 44.06

Has turned his life around after clocking Joe Root in the infamous scrap at Birmingham’s Walkabout bar that preceded the 2013 Ashes. Capable of turning a Test in a single session.

STEVE SMITH

Age: 26

Tests: 28

Ashes Tests: 13

Playing role: Right-handed batsman

Test batting average: 56.23

Ashes batting average: 37.77

The best Test batsman in the world according to the International Cricket Council’s rankings. Posted tons in five of his past six Tests and also reached three figures in Australia’s opening tour game.

MICHAEL CLARKE

Age: 34

Tests: 110

Ashes Tests: 30

Playing role: Right-handed batsman

Test batting average: 50.66

Ashes batting average: 44.87

Failed to register a big score during the West Indies tour, but at his best is the classiest batsman in the side. Well placed to become the first captain to win an Ashes series in England since Steve Waugh in 2001.

ADAM VOGES

Age: 35

Tests: 2

Ashes Tests: 0

Playing role: Right-handed batsman

Test batting average: 167.00

Ashes batting average: N/A

Battled through 160 first-class fixtures – plenty in England – before being awarded a baggy green in the West Indies. Scored 130 to earn man-of-the-match honours on Test debut and could easily establish himself in the side this tour.

SHANE WATSON

Age: 34

Tests: 58

Ashes Tests: 18

Playing role: Right-handed allrounder

Test batting average: 35.40

Test bowling average: 33.05

Ashes batting average: 43.57

Ashes bowling average: 63.66

The divisive allrounder was demoted down the order in the West Indies and failed to fire. Mitch Marsh will ensure the pressure stays on, but Watson has plenty to offer including a lot of experience in English conditions.

BRAD HADDIN

Age: 37

Tests: 65

Ashes Tests: 19

Playing role: Wicketkeeper

Test batting average: 33.37

Ashes batting average: 43.12

It’s the fourth – and final – Ashes tour for the chirpy gloveman. Was one of Australia’s brightest stars in the 2013-14 series, scoring 493 runs to break the record for most runs by a No.7 batsman in any Test series.

MITCHELL JOHNSON

Age: 33

Tests: 66

Ashes Tests: 14

Playing role: Left-arm fast

Test bowling average: 27.58

Ashes bowling average: 23.91

Demoralised England with 37 wickets in the 2013-14 series. Won’t receive quite as much assistance from local pitches, but the left-armer’s pace is up and he looks well placed to banish the demons of an awful 2009 tour.

MITCHELL STARC

Age: 25

Tests: 17

Ashes Tests: 3

Playing role: Left-arm fast

Test bowling average: 32.20

Ashes bowling average: 32.45

Was dropped from the Test side a staggering 11 times prior to the World Cup. Starc’s confidence has soared after dominating the one-day tournament and there is no better stage to show he belongs at cricket’s highest level.

JOSH HAZLEWOOD

Age: 24

Tests: 5

Ashes Tests: 0

Playing role: Right-arm fast-medium

Test bowling average: 19.08

Ashes bowling average: N/A

Man of the series in Australia’s recent 2-0 thumping of the West Indies. Struggled in his first hit-out with the Dukes ball, but improved later in that tour game against Essex. English conditions should suit his bowling.

NATHAN LYON

Age: 27

Tests: 41

Ashes Tests: 8

Playing role: Right-arm offbreak

Test bowling average: 34.73

Ashes bowling average: 30.75

Australia’s most prolific offspinner has come a long way since being dropped for Ashton Agar at the start of the 2013 Ashes in England. Will be buoyed by predictions of docile pitches – and the number of left-handers expected to play for England.

LIKELY ENGLAND X1

ALASTAIR COOK

Age: 30

Tests: 114

Ashes Tests: 25

Playing role: Left-handed batsman

Test batting average: 46.87

Ashes batting average: 39.71

No man has scored more Test runs for England. Cook’s captaincy has come under question recently, but he ended a run of poor batting form with centuries against West Indies and New Zealand.

ADAM LYTH

Age: 27

Tests: 2

Ashes Tests: 0

Playing role: Left-handed batsman

Test batting average: 37.50

Ashes batting average: N/A

Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale once suggested Lyth has more natural talent than teammates Joe Root and Gary Ballance. The opener hasn’t exactly fulfilled it, but Jonathan Trott’s retirement has given him a golden chance to shine this series.

GARY BALLANCE

Age: 25

Tests: 13

Ashes Tests: 1

Playing role: Left-handed batsman

Test batting average: 52.19

Ashes batting average: 12.50

The Zimbabwe-born batsman grew up on a tobacco farm. Failed to post a score of substance during the recent series against New Zealand, but is expected to start at first drop in Cardiff.

IAN BELL

Age: 33

Tests: 110

Ashes Tests: 28

Playing role: Right-handed batsman

Test batting average: 43.77

Ashes batting average: 36.83

Will be playing his seventh Ashes series in a row. When Australia toured in 2013 he served up centuries in England’s three victories to win the Compton-Miller medal awarded to man of the series.

JOE ROOT

Age: 24

Tests: 27

Ashes Tests: 9

Playing role: Right-handed batsman

Test batting average: 54.11

Ashes batting average: 33.18

England’s answer to Steve Smith. Root may not be in the same rich vein of form, but he’s a prodigiously talented batsman that is expected to be England’s next captain.

BEN STOKES

Age: 24

Tests: 11

Ashes Tests: 4

Playing role: Allrounder (left-handed batsman, right-arm fast-medium)

Test batting average: 34.15

Test bowling average: 43.24

Ashes batting average: 34.87

Ashes bowling average: 32.80

Had a memorable debut Test series against Australia in 2013-14, physically clashing with Mitchell Johnson and making a hundred when England relinquished the urn in Perth.

JOS BUTTLER

Age: 24

Tests: 8

Ashes Tests: 0

Playing role: Wicketkeeper

Test batting average: 52.66

Ashes batting average: N/A

Innovative with the bat and willing to take risks, Buttler scored 129 off 77 balls in a recent ODI against New Zealand.

MOEEN ALI

Age: 28

Tests: 11

Ashes Tests: 0

Playing role: Allrounder (left-handed batsman, right-arm offbreak)

Test batting average: 28.50

Test bowling average: 32.60

Ashes batting average: N/A

Ashes bowling average: N/A

Locked in a selection battle with legspinner Adil Rashid. He impressed with the ball in England’s home series against India in 2014, but since then has largely struggled to make an impact in Tests.

STUART BROAD

Age: 29

Tests: 79

Ashes Tests: 17

Playing role: Right-arm fast-medium

Test bowling average: 29.77

Ashes bowling average: 29.95

Any thoughts of finally dropping the ‘pantomime villain’ tag ended when he questioned Steve Smith’s promotion to first drop, saying it helped England. Happy to say a lot on and off the field, but delivered an inspired spell of swing bowling to seal England’s series win in 2013.

MARK WOOD

Age: 25

Tests: 2

Ashes Tests: 0

Playing role: Right-arm fast

Test bowling average: 33.22

Ashes bowling average: N/A

Wiry frame means he may not look menacing, but is England’s fastest option and on his day a handful. Also a reasonably strange cat, Wood rides an imaginary horse any time he is bored in the field.

JAMES ANDERSON

Age: 32

Tests: 104

Ashes Tests: 23

Playing role: Right-arm fast-medium

Test bowling average: 29.42

Ashes bowling average: 36.96

England’s leading wicket-taker of all time is a swing specialist who has bothered Australia plenty of times in the past. Raised eyebrows when he recently called for a sledge-free series, despite being one of the chirpier cricketers in the world.

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