• England still have decisions to make for Ashes defence

    by  • August 18, 2017 • Cricket

    England made a strong statement of intent ahead of their defence of the Ashes by brushing South Africa aside in their first Test series under the captaincy of Joe Root.

    The Three Lions defeated Faf du Plessis’ men 3-1 in their series, securing their first Test home triumph over the Proteas since 1998.

    As a result of the victory, England leapfrogged Australia into third place in the ICC Test rankings with just three months remaining before the two sides clash Down Under.

    Due to the close nature of the last series between the Baggy Greens and England, it could be worthwhile to seek out the latest betting advice before punting on the series. Both sides have flaws, heading into the five-match duel, although 100% of OLBG’s tipsters are backing the Aussies to triumph on home soil outright.

    Despite their convincing victory over the Proteas, England have had their issues over the course of the series – primarily their batting unit.

    Although Alastair Cook, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Root are cemented in the lineup and all had their moments against the Proteas, the other three spots in the unit remain in flux.

    Keaton Jennings has failed in his attempts to lock down the opening position alongside Cook, averaging 15.87 in his eight innings.

    The 25-year-old failed to pass 50 and is unlikely to retain his place for the series against the West Indies, while his spot in the tour Down Under could also be in jeopardy should the new man thrive.

    Gary Ballance spurned his third chance at Test level, struggling in his two matches at number three before a broken finger curtailed his series. The door in the top order seems closed for the Yorkshire batsman for the foreseeable future, although he could drop back into the side at number five.

    Tom Westley and Dawid Malan came into the team for the final two matches. Westley notched a half-century and perhaps did enough to stick around for the rest of the matches this year.

    Malan, on the other hand, failed as he scored 35 runs in his four knocks and could lose his place in the team, despite an impressive showing on his debut in the shorter format of the game.

    Haseed Hameed will be on standby to return to the squad, displaying signs that he could be returning to form with a solid innings in the County Championship for Lancashire. Should the 20-year-old rediscover the peak of his powers then he could be opening alongside Cook at the Gabba.

    Due to the fact that England still have to find a place for Chris Woakes in the team as he makes his return from a side strain, the three spots for batsmen will become two.

    Ali and Bairstow can be shifted up the order to accommodate the Warwickshire man, who has flashed brilliance with both bat and ball.

    The Three Lions have an embarrassment of riches with their all-rounders, leaving them with decisions to make over the coming weeks over the balance of their team for the defence of the Ashes.

    Fortunately for Root, the key players in his side, including himself, have found their form and a victory over the West Indies will send them into Australia with momentum.