England has named their strongest available squad for the Ashes tour of Australia, with coach Chris Silverwood describing the side as “battle hardened” after playing recent Tests against New Zealand and India.
As expected, all-rounders Ben Stokes and Sam Curran were absent from the squad, but seamer Stuart Broad was included despite the calf injury he picked up against India.
England coach Chris Silverwood said Test captain Joe Root (pictured) played a key role in convincing players to sign up for the Ashes tour.Credit:AP
Stokes was unavailable due an indefinite mental health-related break from cricket; he is also still recovering from a second operation on a broken finger. Curran was omitted due to a stress fracture in his lower back.
Fast bowler Jofra Archer was also unavailable after he suffered a recurrence of a stress fracture in his elbow and Olly Stone was ruled out with a back injury.
There were no uncapped players in the 17-member squad that included recalls for batsman Zak Crawley and spinner Dom Bess.
Silverwood said England’s Ashes build-up had been very good in light of the ongoing COVID shadow that hangs over sport.
“We’ve had some tough Tests coming into this, playing New Zealand and India who are the two best teams in the world,” he said. “That’s been great preparation for us … It’s massively exciting this series is going ahead.”
The series had been in doubt after England players expressed concerns about the tour due to “bubble fatigue” and because their families would not be able to travel with them due to Australia’s strict COVID-19 protocols. However, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) gave conditional approval for it to go ahead on Friday.
Silverwood said captain Joe Root played a key role in ensuring players made themselves available for the series, praising Root’s leadership skills.
“There were a lot of negotiations that went on … (Root) showed a lot of class, a lot of empathy and a lot of real good leadership skills to get the players to this point,” said Silverwood.
“What it has done, I think, is galvanise his position as a leader. He came back with a very level view on everything and it really helped to get us to this point.”
The first Test is due to begin in Brisbane on December 8, followed by a day-night match in Adelaide ahead of the traditional Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
Sydney will host the fourth match, while the final Test will be in Perth starting on January 14.
Australia retained the Ashes when the teams last met in 2019 in England after a 2-2 series draw.
England squad: Joe Root (captain), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
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