Hayter: Six ques­tions for six Eng­land Ashes vet­er­ans

Peter Hayter con­tin­ues our in-depth anal­y­sis of cricket’s most en­dur­ing con­test

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With Joe Root’s Eng­land squad ar­riv­ing Down Un­der this week­end at the start of their cam­paign to re­tain the Urn, Peter Hayter as­sem­bled a dis­tin­guished half-dozen to form The Cricket Pa­per’s Ashes panel, two of whom took part in Eng­land’s 2005 vic­tory over Aus­tralia, a se­ries rated one of the best of all time. Six Ashes vet­er­ans, six ques­tions. And Mark Butcher, Do­minic Cork, Ash­ley Giles, Steve Harmi­son, David ‘Bum­ble’ Lloyd and Jack Rus­sell came up with some fas­ci­nat­ing an­swers, too. Ques­tion 1: Where should Joe Root bat?

MARK BUTCHER: His pro­duc­tiv­ity is so vi­tal in this line up that him bat­ting some­where for the sake of ev­ery­one else is not go­ing to be as much use as him bat­ting where he is com­fort­able. If he wants to bat No.4 so be it.

DO­MINIC CORK: Where he feels is right for him be­cause he’s the best player. A lot of peo­ple are say­ing he should bat at three, but if he’s hap­pier at four he should stay there.

ASH­LEY GILES: No.4 in all forms. From very early in his ca­reer that was the po­si­tion to which he was best suited be­cause of his ag­gres­sive and pos­i­tive ap­proach. He takes the game to the opposition and four is the best place to do that from.

STEVE HARMI­SON: I would love to see him bat at No.3 and think he should bat there for the team. But for the ben­e­fit of his frame of mind he should have the fi­nal say.

DAVID LLOYD: He wants to bat at No.4 so that will do for me.

JACK RUS­SELL: When you come off the field and your cap­taincy head is spin­ning and you are get­ting your pads and you lose a wicket in the first over… He’s our best player and go­ing in at No.4 just gives him a bit of breath­ing space. Ques­tion 2: In bat­ting or­der, what is your start­ing XI for the first Test in Bris­bane (without Ben Stokes)?

MB: I’ve gone for the ex­tra bat­ter in this line-up: 1 Alas­tair Cook; 2 Mark Stone­man; 3 James Vince; 4 Joe Root; 5 Dawid Malan; 6 Gary Bal­lance; 7 Jonny Bairstow; 8 Moeen Ali; 9 Chris Woakes; 10 Stu­art Broad; 11 James An­der­son.

DC: I’ve picked four seam­ers in­clud­ing Jake Ball.You can’t chuck in Craig Over­ton with no in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence on the first day of an Ashes se­ries. 1 Cook; 2 Stone­man; 3 Vince; 4 Root; 5 Malan; 6 Bairstow; 7 Moeen; 8 Woakes; 9 Broad; 10 Ball; 11 An­der­son. AG: The bat­ting is light without Stokes. If he had been avail­able, I’d bat Bairstow at five and play an ex­tra seamer to take the pres­sure off his bowl­ing. In the bat­ting line-up Bal­lance gets the nod ahead of Malan. 1 Stone­man; 2 Cook; 3 Vince; 4 Root; 5 Bal­lance; 6 Bairstow; 7 Moeen; 8 Woakes; 9 Ball; 10 Broad; 11 An­der­son. SH: No point in play­ing the ex­tra seamer for the sake of it so I’d push Bairstow up to No.3 and play Ben Foakes, who is a de­cent bat, at No.8 with the op­tion of giv­ing him the gloves. 1 Cook; 2 Stone­man; 3 Bairstow; 4 Root; 5 Bal­lance; 6 Malan; 7 Moeen; 8 Foakes; 9 Woakes; 10 Broad; 11 An­der­son. DL: Without Stokes, this is a golden op­por­tu­nity for a young gun like Craig Over­ton, ex­pected to carry the drinks, to be cat­a­pulted right into the fray. He’s a good kid and a strap­ping lad who doesn’t over­think things and I like that. Pick­ing him would mean Eng­land bat down to nine. 1 Cook; 2 Stone­man; 3 Vince; 4 Root; 5 Malan; 6 Bairstow; 7 Moeen; 8 Woakes; 9 Over­ton; 10 Broad; 11 An­der­son. JR: Peo­ple might think this is a bit offthe-wall but I’m used to that! Without a third opener, I would ask Moeen to go in at No.3 on the un­der­stand­ing that he plays his nat­u­ral ag­gres­sive game; let him smash it and try to give us some mo­men­tum up top. And I’d pro­mote Bairstow to No.5 with Foakes at No.7 to al­low an ex­tra seamer – Steve Finn.

1 Cook; 2 Stone­man; 3 Moeen; 4 Root; 5 Bairstow; 6 Malan; 7 Foakes; 8 Woakes; 9 Broad; 10 Finn; 11 An­der­son. Ques­tion 3: Is there any­one not in the squad who should be there?

MB: I would have taken Tom West­ley ahead of James Vince. On the one oc­ca­sion this sum­mer when Eng­land played on a pitch re­sem­bling what they will find Down Un­der, on his de­but against South Africa at the Oval, West­ley showed enough tech­nique and ap­ti­tude to show he has more of a game for play­ing in Aus­tralia than Vince. I’d also have picked Liam Plun­kett ahead of Steve Finn.

DC: Peo­ple will ar­gue that Jack Leach should be there but the rea­son they’ve taken Ma­son Crane is that the Aussies rate him. They don’t let Poms play in the Sh­effield Shield, as he did for New South Wales last win­ter, if they don’t. I like his ag­gres­sion. AG: No dis­re­spect to Crane, be­cause he has a lot of po­ten­tial, but I would have taken Leach ahead of him. He spins it, is con­sis­tent and takes wick­ets. This is a mas­sive se­ries for Moeen Ali, but what do Eng­land do if the Aussies suc­ceed in bat­ter­ing him out of the at­tack and Eng­land need a sec­ond spin­ner? Without Stokes, I would have gone for Liam Liv­ing­stone to take the game to the Aussie bowlers down the or­der. He did strug­gle on his T20 de­but but I like the way he plays and pick­ing him would have al­lowed Bairstow to go up the or­der. SH: Mark Wood, on fit­ness grounds, al­though I still think he will play a Test match this win­ter.

Without Stokes, this is a golden op­por­tu­nity for a young gun like Craig Over­ton to be cat­a­pulted right into the fray David Lloyd

The key is to be men­tally bombproof. Pre­pare for the bom­bard­ment but be obliv­i­ous to it Jack Rus­sell

No third opener wor­ries me. Ev­ery­one knows how close I am to my for­mer Durham team­mate “Rocky” Stone­man but it’s a big ask for some­one who hasn’t played a lot of Test cricket to open and play ten in­nings on the spin. With Root adamant about bat­ting at No.4, I’d have liked the other op­tion of play­ing all three open­ers and, al­though no one is kick­ing the door down, Keaton Jen­nings might have been worth a place.

DL: I would def­i­nitely have gone for Adil Rashid as the sec­ond spin­ner. He had a poor sum­mer but he’s 29 years of age and took 30 wick­ets last win­ter. They’ve put a lot of time and ef­fort into him and now they’ve biffed him. Dis­ap­point­ing.

JR: We could re­ally have done with a third opener and I would have played him, too. But the fact that I can’t name one who should have been picked says it all. Tell An­drew Strauss to make sure

he takes his kit with him when he goes out to visit the troops. Ques­tion 4: How do you re­act to David Warner‘s talk of go­ing to war and need­ing to feel ha­tred for Eng­land play­ers?

MB: Clumsy choice of words but I un­der­stand what he’s say­ing. Warner is so used to play­ing along­side Eng­land play­ers in fran­chise cricket so he was prob­a­bly say­ing I know these blokes and I know they are not bad blokes. But I’m go­ing to have to turn them into bad blokes be­cause it’s the Ashes.

DC: How do you re­act to David Warner? You don’t. Maybe he’s a bit wor­ried about Eng­land and he’s try­ing to put pres­sure on them, but it’s the Ashes so no-one needs to do that and def­i­nitely no-one needs to talk about go­ing to war. Be proud and feel

priv­i­leged to be play­ing for Eng­land or Aus­tralia and just get on with the game. Just say Cork tells Warner to stick a cork in it.

AG: The Aussies have al­ways done “ruth­less” bet­ter than us. They play bet­ter like that. They don’t play well friendly. But if you play good con­sis­tent cricket, like we did in 2005 and throw as many blows (fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing) as they do, they’re only hu­man and you can push them back. But no mat­ter how they like to build it up, it’s not war.

SH: Sticks and stones. I love it. We’re go­ing to get this and we’re go­ing to get that. If Warner wants to go to war let him, and let it put him off his game.

DL: In 1974-75 I played against a fan­tas­tic team, con­tain­ing Den­nis Lillee and Jeff Thom­son and bril­liantly led by Ian Chap­pell. They won 4-1 and they were a great set of blokes. These lads must re­mem­ber that, at the mo­ment, they

are the cus­to­di­ans of the Ashes. These matches have to be played hard but in a great spirit.

JR: Brain­less. If he has to do that then there is some­thing wrong with him. The Ashes gets you up any­way.You fight hard and you give it your best but there’s no need to hate any­one. Ques­tion 5: What are the keys to Eng­land’s chances?

MB: On the last tour the po­tency of Broad and An­der­son was not enough to bowl out Aus­tralia twice. If that is the case this time, it’s over. But if they do bowl bril­liantly, with Woakes and Moeen Ali in sup­port, Eng­land’s en­gine room in the mid­dle or­der could win the bat­tle.

DC: First in­nings runs. If Eng­land can get big to­tals they have a very good chance. Then get Warner and Steve Smith out cheaply. Sim­ple!

AG: Ei­ther side could win this se­ries eas­ily, that’s how close it is. Nei­ther has a mas­sive ad­van­tage in terms of form or con­fi­dence. Aus­tralia will try and bully Eng­land but Eng­land must keep com­ing at them. Root has his bankers but the key could be how the new guys per­form.

SH: Eng­land need to stay in ev­ery ses­sion and ev­ery game as long as pos­si­ble. That means not los­ing wick­ets in clus­ters and, when we are not tak­ing wick­ets our­selves, mak­ing sure we are not fly­ing out of the park. If we do that the pres­sure on the Aussies will grow be­cause, in their own back yard, they are ex­pected to win.

DL: To­geth­er­ness. We can’t have fac­tions within camp. And do not fear Aus­tralia be­cause they are not that good. They have two bats­men; a wick­et­keeper who can’t catch; and five bowlers who can’t stand up for longer than a fort­night.

JR: The key is to be men­tally bombproof. Pre­pare for the bom­bard­ment but be obliv­i­ous to it. Be­ing un­der­dogs is no bad thing but the times we have done worst are when we are dis­jointed. When they smell blood they will dive in. Don’t give them any en­cour­age­ment. Ques­tion 6: What is your pre­dic­tion for the se­ries? MB: I can’t see any draws from these two bat­ting sides, so 4-1 to Aus­tralia. DC: My heart says Eng­land win, my head says Aus­tralia win, 2-1. AG: Given the is­sues go­ing into the se­ries, if Eng­land win it will be one of our finest ever vic­to­ries. Aus­tralia win 3-1. SH: No draws. Aus­tralia win 3-2. DL: No draws. Eng­land win 3-2. JR: I’m not stay­ing up all night think­ing Eng­land will lose. It would do my head in. Eng­land win 3-2.

War­ring fac­tion: Aus­tralia’s opener David Warner

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Happy at No.4: Eng­land cap­tain Joe Root

Rated by the Aussies: Eng­land leg-spin­ner Ma­son Crane

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