London: The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Sunday named the strongest available squad for the 2021-22 Ashes with wicketkeeper and vice-captain Jos Buttler joining captain Joe Root in committing to the tour of Australia, starting in November.
Of the 17-member squad, ten will be touring Australia in an Ashes series for the first time.
As anticipated, Ben Stokes was not considered for selection as he continues to take an indefinite break from cricket to manage his well-being. The all-rounder’s absence is no surprise but leaves a huge hole in Joe Root’s team as they attempt to reclaim the Ashes and win in Australia for the first time in eleven years.
Stuart Broad, who tore a calf after the first Test against India in August, has also been included subject to proving his fitness in a pre-departure training camp at Loughborough. It will be Broad’s fourth Ashes tour.
Meanwhile, all-rounder, Sam Curran was not considered for selection after a second scan confirmed that he has a stress fracture in his lower back.
England’s fast-bowling attack is set to lack the variety due to injuries to Jofra Archer and Olly Stone. Mark Wood is the only genuine pace bowler and Ollie Robinson, Craig Overton Broad, James Anderson, and Chris Woakes have also been included in the squad.
The top three who finished the series against India – Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, and Dawid Malan – have all been included while Jonny Bairstow will provide wicket-keeping back-up to Buttler.
“As confirmed on Friday, the Ashes tour is subject to several critical conditions being met by Cricket Australia before the team travels in November. However, positive ongoing discussions continue, and it is hoped matters will be resolved in due course,” the ECB said in a statement.
Chris Silverwood, England’s head coach and chief selector, said he was “delighted that all of our available players have committed to the tour”.
Notably, Buttler was understood to have been wavering due to the time he will spend away from home for the T20 World Cup and Ashes, as well as Australia’s tough approach to Covid-19 protocols.
“A tour of Australia is the pinnacle as an England Test cricketer. I am delighted that all of our available players have committed to the tour. We are looking forward to touring and enjoying the experience of this historic series,” said Silverwood.
“This is why we play and coach to be involved in iconic series like this. More than half of our squad haven’t featured in an Ashes tour before, which means we will be fresh and looking to embrace the cricket and the excitement of touring one of the best places in the world.
“I believe we have selected a well-balanced squad with options in all areas and a blend of youth and experience. There is real competition for places and a genuine desire to work hard and compete, aiming to create some history,” he added.
An England Lions party will also travel to Australia, giving the selectors further options, with a squad to be announced in due course. There will be a three-day and four-day practice game before the first Test in Brisbane on December 8.
Providing the final conditions set down by the ECB for the tour to go ahead are met, England’s Test specialists and the Lions squad are set to depart for Australia on November 4.
Those players who are part of England’s T20 World Cup squad in the UAE will join the Ashes tour after their tournament commitments.
England squad for the Ashes: Joe Root (c), 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.