A Team To Win The 2019 Ashes

Who needs Jim, Gus and Mick when you’ve got cricket bloggers eh? Picking Ashes winning sides is as easy as pie for us keyboard warriors. You just need good batsmen, a balanced attack that covers all bases and, erm, a bit of luck. The kind of luck that unexpectedly kept Starc, Hazlewood, and Cummins on the park for the last two months.

Australia will be a hard team to beat in England in 2019, especially if they can keep their pacemen fit again, therefore it’s essential for England to fight fire with fire. And that means blooding some new bowlers with pace and aggression, as well as the usual guys capable of exploiting the English facilities. Oh, and we’ll need a decent spinner too!

Thankfully Australia’s batsmen (unless they find some new talent) will be somewhat more vulnerable when they come to England. The likes of Bancroft, Khawaja, Handscomb, the Marshes, and even Steve Smith himself, might find it trickier when the ball’s moving around. Consequently England should, in theory, have the edge in the batting department – so long as they pick the right players.

With that in mind, I’m going to do the selectors’ job for them by picking an XI that will surely triumph whatever pitches are prepared. And I didn’t even need to be a full time director of cricket at a county to do so.

1. Alastair Cook- Of course he’ll still be playing. He’s made of iron you fool.

2. Haseeb Hameed – Gets the nod over Nick Gubbins because I’d prefer and right/left hand combination at the top. Huge potential with the ability to dig in for long periods.

3. Joe Root – I’m not comfortable with the alternatives at three, but I am (finally) feeling more confident about the alternatives at four and five; therefore it’s time for Joe to move up.

4. Dawid Malan – If Malan kicks on he can be a reassuring presence at 4. Think of him as a cross between Gower and Thorpe … no pressure, Dawid.

5. Liam Livingstone – Leaving out Joe Clarke hurt, as I think he’s a bit special, but there’s something irresistibly pugnacious about Livingstone. He’s a bit more mature than Clarke too, and a leader in the making.

6. Ben Stokes – one assumes that Ben Solo will be at his very peak next year … unless he’s in trouble for something else. Provides the X-factor we so badly lacked this winter.

7. Jonny Bairstow – He’s too good to bat at 7 but I’m loving the right-hand, left-hand, right-hand, left-hand variety in this middle-order. Just watch Starc’s radar go haywire.

8. Dom Bess – He’s the all-rounder to replace Moeen Ali. The crucial difference is that Bess’s bowling has more potential than his batting. He’s a proper spinner in the making.

9. Olly Stone – You wanted some pace and aggression? Well Stone has it in spades. His recent injury problem (knee) concerns me less than Tom Helm’s stress fractures. He was superb for England U19 a few years back and he’s the quickest and best fast bowling prospect we’ve got.

10. Josh Tongue – You wanted some pace and aggression? Well have some more! Tongue will still be very young next summer but he’s an extremely good prospect and I hope he can develop quickly. When he fills out he’ll be a handful.

11. Jimmy Anderson – Think of him as Mr Miyagi, gently nurturing Stone and Tongue while quietly whispering “break the batsman’s arm” into their ear.

So there you have it. A tantalising fusion of youth and experience. The batting is built around five experienced campaigners in Cook, Root, Malan, Stokes and Bairstow. The two youngsters, Lawrence and Livingstone, provide patience and gusto respectively. It’s an exciting line-up that isn’t particularly high-risk either.

The bowling also has a mix of experience, guile and aggression. Anderson and Stokes provide experience and swing, whilst the two tearaway quicks will bowl short sharp spells like Pat Cummins. However, if conditions are typically English, and the pitch has a hint of green, then one of the young tyros can make way for Jamie Porter, Sam Curran, or Toby Roland Jones. If the surface is dry, then one could make way for Mason Crane.

So what do you think? Personally I think there’s no way Australia win a single test. We’re going to win 5-0 at a canter, end a few Australian careers, and the whole team will be knighted. What could possible go wrong?

James Morgan

2018-01-11T15:00:13+00:00 January 11th, 2018|Ashes 17/18|43 Comments


  1. Marc Evans January 11, 2018 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Bit of a dodgy portent using the ‘one team to rule them all’ quote. Next line was, ‘and in the darkness bind them’.
    Probably more apt than we know.

    • James Morgan January 11, 2018 at 11:49 am - Reply

      Put the ring on … the total invisibility of our players might be a strength for once.

      • Nick January 11, 2018 at 2:18 pm - Reply

        History tells us we are usally the bad guys, may as well get the benefits of the dark side

        • Marc Evans January 11, 2018 at 7:56 pm - Reply

          It’s one of the strange things about being English. Everyone wants to beat us at everything just that little bit more. Even when we have sub standard teams we are the scalp people want. Maybe it’s something to do with the legacy of empire, the ‘Mother Country’ and all that. Also we invented a lot of these sports and exported them on our travels. I guess we just have to live with it.
          Yet when we become Team GB, as in the olympics, this doesn’t seem to happen.

          • Steve January 11, 2018 at 9:50 pm - Reply

            Perhaps the England and Wales Cricket Board should pick and England and Wales team and then you would get less vigorous opposition.

            • Marc Evans January 11, 2018 at 11:38 pm - Reply

              Well, we do play test matches in Wales and we’ve had Simon Jones playing for us recently, so I suppose we’re on the way.

            • Mike Chaffin January 12, 2018 at 10:41 am - Reply

              Why didn’t they just play the Lions if they wanted a good standard?

  2. Max Sawyer January 11, 2018 at 11:48 am - Reply

    Adil Rashid, Jack Leach?

    • James Morgan January 11, 2018 at 11:50 am - Reply

      I’ve gone for Bess because he’s probably the best all rounder cricketer (batting, fielding, bowling). Leach himself has said that Bess is more talented. However, I certainly wouldn’t rule out other options.

  3. Tom January 11, 2018 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    How many of those players are yet to debut? Five of them? So at most they’ll have played 15 Tests by the time the Ashes come around. Pretty wet behind the ears.

    This is my conservative estimate of what the Australian team will look like (ages at July 1, 2019 in brackets):

    Davey Warner (32)
    Joe Burns (29)
    Usman Khawaja (32)
    Steve Smith (30)
    Shaun Marsh (36)
    Mitch Marsh (27)
    Tim Paine (34)
    Pat Cummins (26)
    Mitchell Starc (29)
    Nathan Lyon (31)
    Josh Hazlewood (28)

    Basically a stab in the dark at this stage to guess Warner’s opening partner, whether Shaun Marsh lasts that long, and whether Paine is still the man behind the stumps. I guess my point is that Australia will likely go into that series with a vastly more experienced line-up, without necessarily being over the hill. Barring injuries, that bowling attack should still be pretty handy.

    • James Morgan January 11, 2018 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      It’s either pick players who have debuted and already failed or pick new guys who might succeed. Experience isn’t a good thing if it’s bad experience. Plus there’s still plenty of experience in the XI elsewhere. The core is highly experienced.

      Simon Jones had only played 14 tests before the 2005 Ashes, Geraint Jones 14, Bell had only played 3, and Pietersen hadn’t played a single one. But the key players around them were veterans.

      • Tom January 11, 2018 at 12:30 pm - Reply

        Sure – I’m merely pointing out that having half the team with fewer than 15 Tests under their belts could well be a liability. My view is that this series will come 12 months too early for England to have properly transitioned, even if they get everything right in terms of selections and the players picked all take their chances.

      • Doug January 11, 2018 at 12:39 pm - Reply

        I agree. Got to go with youth. Doesn’t really matter if they have not played many tests get them in. I don’t go with this he’s not ready stuff. If you think they are good enough play them. Other countries do it.
        Porter for Anderson, hell be gone by then. Crane? Don’t know yet, but doubtful. Rashid, no, bowls too short and leaks runs in tests. Leach in the squad and Sam Curran, left arm fast medium and bats better than Tom. Got to get Foakes in their too, best keeper in the country and I’d rather see Bairstow at 5 as a batsman only.

        • Marc Evans January 11, 2018 at 12:47 pm - Reply

          Other countries do it because players tend to mature younger abroad. Don’t know why, but it’s always been like that. Can you imagine an English 16 year old like Tendulkar?

    • Pete Cresswell January 11, 2018 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Australia’s concerns are a bit different (and of a lower magnitude) than England:
      *Can they keep Starc, Hazlewood & Cummins on the park? – Granted Pattinson is handy backup if fit, while Bird will be a lot more effective in English conditions than he was on that pudding at the MCG.
      *Who’s the 2nd opener? – As you mention above
      *Can Khawaja make runs outside Australia (he averages a Vince-esque 27 away from home currently)? Can the Marsh brothers score runs in England?
      *Can Paine make it that far? He’ll be pushing 35. Who’s next in line with the gloves?
      *Lyon’s still likely to be pretty handy, but who’s his backup?

      • Nick January 11, 2018 at 2:45 pm - Reply

        Be surprised if S Marsh makes it, he will be 36 and is not without injury problems

        • Tom January 11, 2018 at 3:34 pm - Reply

          It’ll be interesting to see who gets taken to South Africa. I reckon they fancy Travis Head, despite ordinary FC numbers.

      • James Morgan January 11, 2018 at 2:50 pm - Reply

        Pattinson is even more injury prone than Cummins! Good bowler though, and handy batsman. But he’ll be injured 🙂

      • Tom January 11, 2018 at 3:32 pm - Reply

        How many “backups” does a team need? Who is Stokes’ backup?

        Sure, question marks over Australia’s batting but I don’t think anyone will be losing sleep over not having an understudy to Lyon. But I imagine it would be Zampa, Agar, Holland or even O’Keefe. Hardly a pressing question.

        As for the keeper, there are 3-4 guys: Wade, Neville, Carey and probably Whiteman. Also not a major concern.

        • Steve January 11, 2018 at 10:04 pm - Reply

          Lyon would be missed but Spin is unlikely to be the most critical element in an Ashes series in England, and if pitches are provided where it is I am sure the Australian top order will thank you. There are backups available Agar being the most in favour at the moment.

          Wicket Keeping, Paine did well but is hardly irreplacable – He’s not Gilchrist. Pattinson is the obvious other back up, but its also less likely that the bowlers will face serious injuries now they are generally 25+. All these guys faced their injury prone period in that age and are now moving out of it hopefully.

          The more pertinent point is that on average pace bowlers usually hit their peak around 28-30, batsmen 28-32, and spinners 28-34 and the Aus team will be right in that sweet spot (Marsh excepted) around that time.

    • dlpthomas January 11, 2018 at 11:43 pm - Reply

      For some reason I thought Lyon was older than he is (maybe Warny should have a quiet word to him about Advanced Hair). If he stays fit, he’s going to finish his career with a lot of wickets.

  4. Marc Evans January 11, 2018 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    How about a Sky Sports X1 just for that series.
    In batting order, ironically with a surfeit of no 3’s:
    Atherton, Key, Butcher, Gower, Hussein, Ramprakash, Botham, Stewart, Swann, Harmison, Willis.
    I’ve probably missed a couple, as it seems a bit top heavy. But not a bad outfit, even now I should think.

    • Doug January 11, 2018 at 12:40 pm - Reply

      Would do better than the current lot!

  5. Silk January 11, 2018 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    That looks more like a team focused on winning The 2021 Ashes than the 2019 Ashes. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

    If England only want to win home Tests (and maybe pick up the occasional away win in NZ or the Windies) then they should go with

    Cook, Stoneman, Lawrence, Root, Malan, Stokes, Bairstow, Ali, Woakes, TRJ, Anderson

    However, I agree that now is the time to be blooding new talent with the aim of building a team that can compete on all surfaces. I like the look of the one above. And so does James Whitaker, which is why he’s realised the current level of performance is unacceptable, and taken some real punts with the squad for the NZ tour.

    • Mike Chaffin January 11, 2018 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      No pace in that lineup. In fact not much different to the attack that couldn’t take 20 wickets in the last series.

  6. Nick January 11, 2018 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    Dan Lawerence doesn’t open in red ball cricket so you better let Essex know and he bowls a decent leg spinner so get him in at eight. Personally I don’t think Jimmy will make it, reckon he might try and go on a high at the end of this summer but who knows.

    I see Jake Ball getting back in the side, I know a few people seem to have turned against him quickly but has shown good things at times. He was a player at lot of the other pros were mentioning to the Sky team to take an interest in before his debut. His problem is he seems a bit of an heir to Broad which isn’t a bad thing but England need varity.

    My real hope is that Steve Finn will turn this talk of being able to bowl fast into a great start to the season because he bowls at Lords which over the last few years been quite flat and been out bowled by TRJ

    • James Morgan January 11, 2018 at 2:58 pm - Reply

      Balls. I often get Lawrence messed up with Alex Davies (who opens for Lancs). Heaven knows why … generic English names I guess. I’ve swapped him for Hameed. Duh! I’m obviously still jet-lagged from the Ashes.

  7. James Morgan January 11, 2018 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Disappointed that there are only two changes (Livingstone & Wood) in the squad for NZ. Vince getting yet another go boggles the mind. Good to see Wood back though … as long as he’s 100% fit.

    • Silk January 11, 2018 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      That’s Mark Wood who averages 40 with the ball in tests, right?

      Prediction time. Crane plays in the first Test in NZ and this is the last Test of his career.

      • Mike Chaffin January 11, 2018 at 8:27 pm - Reply

        Why do you think that?

        • Silk January 12, 2018 at 8:33 am - Reply

          I think he’ll have a poor match, we’ll lose, he’ll get dropped and we’ll never have the guts to pick him again.

          I don’t think he’s untalented but I don’t see England continually picking a leggie who’s not ready.

          Once he goes back to Hants he’ll disappear, at least in red ball cricket.

  8. Steve January 11, 2018 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    If that’s the team we should be facing, what will be the one that we are actually facing?

    I am guessing Stuart Broad will play at least. you know he will get wicket in NZ and at home and with 430 wickets coming into the 2019 Ashes they will retain him even if he is past his best.

  9. Mike Chaffin January 12, 2018 at 1:16 am - Reply


    Interesting article..

    Makes a few excuses towards the end regarding player specialisation but I can’t think of any crackerjack bowlers who’ve restricted themselves to white ball other than Tymal Mills, who did so due to injury.

    Apparently 8 of our current 11 were private schoolboys, which does make you wonder how they pick them. If, what 5%, of the the population are taught to take a hot crumpet from behind without blubbing then that doesn’t provide much of a pool to choose from.

    I played for a club in the Lancashire and Cheshire league and one of the old salts was quite vocal about Atherton, who he thought was crap. He averaged 30 with the bat and 20 odd with the ball ( which wasn’t very good) in the league but broke all sorts of batting records in private school cricket. Duel’s with Donald aside he’s still hailed as a great player despite a test match average of 37 and being a walking wicket for Glenn McGrath. Maybe the old salt knew more than than whoever was selecting the test side…

    • James Morgan January 12, 2018 at 8:20 am - Reply

      Hi Mike. I’m going to stick up for Atherton here. I politely suggest that old bloke who didn’t rate him was very wrong. Atherton was an excellent player, who would have averaged a lot more had he not suffered terribly from a chronic back condition that runs in this family. An average of 37 wasn’t bad back in 90s either. The benchmark for a world class player was 40 not 50 in those days. Plus I imagine he played in the Lancs leagues when he was very young.

      Atherton basically carried the team for a stretch against some of the most ferocious attacks in history. He averaged 41 against Wasim and Waqar, and 44 against Donald and Pollock. Yes he became a bit of a bunny against McGrath, but this was mostly towards the end of his career when his movement was very restricted. His autobiography (which is excellent) talks about this I recall. I think he would have scored millions had he played today.

      English cricket suffers from snobbery at the very top imho, but I don’t think many players these days get fast tracked into the school because of their class and education. Athers himself went to Manchester Grammar not a posh fee paying public school. The lack of cricketers from a state school education is probably due to the fact that they rarely play cricket any more at these schools rather than the fact they’re being snubbed.

      • Mike Chaffin January 12, 2018 at 12:28 pm - Reply

        Oh I remember the days of Atherton out all out very well. And frankly hadn’t really reconsidered Atherton before.

        Alec Stewart averaged 47 without the gloves and Graham Gooch over 50 in the same period, and under the same conditions, though so it wasn’t impossible. Andy Flower, Michael Slater and several others.. He did have Mark Butcher to make him look good of course! And Hussein, who definitely was crap, and who also came up through the private school’s cricket system.

        I’m not having a dig at Atherton per se, more the overarching system which produced and promoted him. How many other young bats in the same league had better records but didn’t attend a fee paying school, which Manchester Grammar school certainly is? How many even went on to play first class?

        I suspect a lot. Picking the best from the chinless wonders who generally play against other chinless wonders might lead to the right sort of chap but doesn’t necessarily lead to runs and wickets.

        And it isn’t fundamentally about cricket not being played in state schools. If people want to play cricket they generally join a club. And who has ever seen a scout at one of their club’s matches?

        • James Morgan January 12, 2018 at 2:53 pm - Reply

          Apologies. I thought all grammar schools are free! They certainly are where I live.

          We’ll have to agree to disagree on this state schools thing. It surely encourages kids to play a sport if they can do it at school. I would never have discovered cricket had I not played it at school. Neither of my parents were interested.

          • Mike Chaffin January 12, 2018 at 3:30 pm - Reply

            No I suspect that we are totally in agreement that cricket should be played in all schools.

            • James Morgan January 12, 2018 at 5:17 pm - Reply


        • Steve January 12, 2018 at 8:11 pm - Reply

          In Australia it is pretty rare for a non state school educated person to make the test team. Ed Cowan being about the only recent exception.

          The usually stated reason for this is that talented 16-17 year old play grade cricket on Saturday if they are from state schools and so are thrown in to tough adult competition.
          Private schools play sport on Saturday and typically refuse to allow students to not play their own competitions where talented youngsters can smash less talented youngsters.

          Ed Cowan notably did get permission when he was 17 to play Sydney first grade but it’s rare.

          In Rugby where 16 year olds Really can’t play with Adults for threat of serious injury the private school competition is the strongest for that age group and most Aus rugby players come from private schools.

          • JohnB January 24, 2018 at 7:02 am - Reply

            Just noting the “Ed Cowan being about the only recent exception” line is a bit of a furphy – POSSIBLY that’s right for NSW (although the existence of selective sports high schools there muddy the waters a lot) but just both recent new test players from Qld (Burns and Renshaw) came out of private schools. Go down the list of recent new caps and I suspect many will in fact have come from private schools – probably not a majority, but many.

  10. AndyB January 12, 2018 at 9:09 am - Reply

    An odd bowling attack for English wickets. A pace attack that only contains one swing bowler (who will be 37) when experience in our conditions with the Duke suggests swing is indispensable and much more effective than pure pace (or spin). Whilst I have no problem with the idea of more pure pace on Oz wickets, Woakes is essential on English grounds (for Tongue – a pure banger by reputation). With Woakes in the side picking Jack Leach in place of Bess also becomes more viable given Woakes batting. I agree that Stones is the fastest we have, probably able to sustain 95mph fully fit, but I would reserve judgement on him until I see him do that week in, week out in 2018 Championship games. I am not convinced by Livingstone as yet as he still looks like yet another white ball bat with the shot selection issues that cause problems against test bowling – but I have no better alternative.

    • James Morgan January 12, 2018 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Hi Andy. I said at the end that I’d change the attack if it’s a green pitch. Woakes could come in then (or TRJ). My concern is to find an XI that can win in all conditions. And besides, we often struggle to take 20 wickets in English conditions too … just look at our feeble attempts to bowl out Sri Lanka at Lord’s and our struggles to dismiss Shai Hope too. England struggle to bowl sides out on flat pitches full stop, not just when they’re using a Kookaburra ball.

      PS Livingstone regards himself as more of a red ball player and doesn’t feel entirely comfortable in T20 according to recent interviews. First class average touching 50.

  11. Mike Chaffin January 12, 2018 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Here’s the team I think we should be moving towards for 2019..

    1 Mark Stoneman – If you’re going to war, take a Geordie.
    2. Haseeb Hameed – Not convinced against genuine pace yet but I want someone to anchor the innings, occupy the crease and wear the convicts down.
    3. Alistair Cook – If he gets past the new ball he scores a double, generally. Three might bight breathe fresh life into his still relatively young legs.
    4. Liam Livingstone – I’d try him at three first, as he is a three. There are other options here depending how he goes.
    5. Joe Root – not too bothered whether he scores 100s or merely lots of 50s, as long as he’s contributing in all games.
    6. Dawid Malan – Our one successful pick and some useful containing leggies.
    7. Johnny Bairstow
    8. Ben Stokes – Nuff said. Another Geordie, is not soft.
    9 Craig Overton – The only debutant who has definitely done enough to stay. Decent with the bat and wields an angry pitchfork.
    10 Jamie Overton – 93mph angry pitchforks whilst competing with his older bro. Saves him the expense of forking out to watch his brother play.
    11. Jimmy Anderson / Steven Finn / Mason Crane – depends on the wicket.

    Might have one too many a poncy southerner in there and Craig Overton might make way for genuine pace depending upon the wicket.

    Central contracts would be toned down a tadge. rather than £700k a year they’d be based more around performance related pay. Something along the lines of £1k per run, £50k for a ton, £30k per top order wicket ( 1-7) and a bonus of £10k for pinning a convict to the sight screen. £20k if you break something on them or scar them. Hence you only have to hit a bowler three times per innings for them to be worth as much as a top order bat, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    Turn their bowlers into cash pinatas in the first test and we’ll soon see who can bowl quicker.

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