Urning a place on the plane: the Guerilla Cricket Ashes selections (part one)

Give me your Ashes teams, said @guerillahendo. Starting XIs for Brisbane, squad players and reasons. 150 words max. Back they came, at first a trickle, then a flow, then a veritable flood. Some were short, pithy, to the point; others were longer, more rounded; a few had their own books and were available on Amazon. There was strange manlove for Liam Plunkett, bizarre left-field votes for Cookie’s Essex mates Dan Lawrence and James Foster. And then there was Cockers; Cockers is as Cockers does – and he does freeform. Read down to see who you agree with and who you believe, passionately, to be a raving lunatic.


Andy Ward (aka @getitquietly)

Starting XI at the Gabba: Cook, Stoneman, Jennings, Root, Malan, Stokes, Bairstow, Moeen, Woakes, Broad, Anderson. Squad players: Westley, Browne, Wood, Rashid, Buttler and Porter. Good luck boys!

England’s options are less Probables and Possibles than they are Definites and What Differences. Barring injury Cook, Root, Stokes, Moeen, Bairstow, Broad and Anderson will start the first match and every match. After that, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from professional gambling, it’s that the closer the decision, the less it matters. The world of sports punditry obviously takes a different view, with minimal differences being debated to death. Having said that, possession is 9/10 of the law and I’d stick with Stoneman and Malan. Woakes can start as the fourth seamer. I don’t think Westley is a starter at No 3, so Jennings as a “third opener”, this is the closest call so meh.

Paul Howarth (aka @grubby78)

Starting XI at the Gabba: Cook, Hameed, Root, Hales, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler (wk), Moeen, Plunkett, Broad, Anderson. Squad players: Stoneman, Malan, Patel, Rashid, Woakes, Wood,

Haseeb Hameed comes back into the fold (finger permitting) as he’s looked the most natural partner for Cookie; Mark Stoneman understudies. Rooty moves up to 3 and Alex Hales grabs a spot at 4 – he’s in fantastic form and should enjoy the sit-up-and-beg bounce at the Gabba. Jos Buttler – gimlet-eyed and Most Talented Player Of His Generation (TM Grubby) – has to play. He can change games in a session. Do I care he hasn’t had much red-ball action recently? Do I chuff. And if he plays, he keeps.Liam Plunkett claims the third seamer berth. Pace and bounce are your currency in Brisbane and Plunkers has an embarrassment of these riches. Dawid Malan did just enough in the summer to suggest the requisite grit, Adil Rashid might get to add to his all-away Test tally, Woakes and Wood are exciting seaming deputies, and Samit Patel can be the joker in the pack (and the middle-order) if needed. This lot to earn the urn 3-2. Come on!

Ian Pearce (aka @ianpearce100)

Starting XI for the Gabba: Cook, Stoneman, Root, Hales, Malan,Stokes,Bairstow, Ali, Woakes, Broad and Anderson. Squad players: Lawrence, Vince, Crane,Wood, Finn, Buttler (wk)

In my opinion England at the Gabba could contain as many as nine of the 11 from the Lord;s Test. Woakes a straight swap for TRJ and I think Root may give in and bat No 3. Hales may get a middle order slot for his international experience.As for the other batters I think England might go a wildcard route due to injury to Hameed and nobody putting their hand up in the Championship. Therefore Dan Lawrence from Essex gets a go added to another chance for James Vince. In as back-up for the bowling attack I think will be Crane, Wood and Finn. Despite little Championship cricket I think Buttler will be the reserve keeper because of his previous Test experience and time in the Big Bash as well as backing from Baylis.

Nigel Walker (aka @thehoffbear)

Starting XI for the Gabba: Cook, Stoneman Root Hales, Malan, Stokes, Bairstow, Ali Woakes Broad, Anderson. Squad players: Hameed, Robson, Wood, Plunkett, Crane, Buttler (wk)

My staring XI for Brisbane has only one change from the last Test in England. For me Westley misses the cut, Root moves up one and Hales slots in the middle order. He likes pace on the ball and with the fast, flatter wickets in Aus with a ball that doesn’t do as much it could suit him in the middle order. Bairstow keeps the gloves. Buttler is my spare keeper who could do a similar job to Hales but at No.7 if needs be. In this scenario Barstow moves to No 4. If Root is struggling at No 3 taking a couple of spare openers may not be a bad thing, He could move back down to No 4, then perm two of three from Robson, Stoneman and Hasseeb., leaving a shootout between Malan and Hales for the No 5 spot. Hameed earns another go (finger permitting) even though he has had a pretty rough season. His success in India showed great maturity and he deserves another go. Robson is a wild card, He grew up in Australia so will be used to the conditions and having gone through so many batsmen over the last few years we may as well go back and see if some of them have learnt anything after being dropped. Spare bowlers: having only three spots I go with Wood, I like his raw pace if fit, I think Plunkett is an aggressive hit-the-deck bowler and could be useful Down Under. Mason Crane gets on my list as second spinner. I admit I haven’t seen much of him, just his T20 appearance, but I liked his flight, control and pace.Adil Rashid has had his chance and doesn’t cut it for me at Test level although he is fine in the shorter formats. Besides which Crane has played State cricket so will have experience of the wickets. As a a quick caveat, the Lions tour is shadowing the Test tour and three players who would be first on my list in that squad with an eye to the main event would be Jake Ball, Westley and Foakes.

Nigel Henderson (aka @guerillahendo)

Starting XI for the Gabba; Cook, Stoneman, Root, Hales, Stokes, Patel, Bairstow, Moeen, Woakes, Broad, Anderson. Squad players: Ballance, Malan, Ball, Plunkett, Crane, Foakes (wk)

Has there ever been a summer when so many positions were up for grabs and yet so few who could have taken them were willing to take their opportunity through loss of form or injury? It has made selections for the Ashes fraught with difficulty and forced selectors, professional or amateur, to go out on a limb. Root has to move to No 3 and Stoneman has nuggety principles mixed with fine timing that will do the job at the top sooner or later. Hales earns a place for getting his head down in all forms of the game, while Patel’s flair has to be given one more chance on fast pitches to prove that Fat Men Can Play Cricket (885 runs at 55.31 this summer). He can also throw a few darts to rest any over-worked faster bowlers (16 wkts at 34 this summer and economy rate of 2.83). The rest of the attack pretty much picks itself. Grubby’s manlove for Plunkett is good enough for me for a place in the squad, Foakes slips on the reserve gloves and Ballance goes because he’s Root’s mate.Crane gets the spin vote because Rashid has had a wretched four-day season and the Australians rate him….

Gary Naylor (aka @garynaylor999)

Starting XI for the Gabba: Cook, Stoneman, Root, Malan, Stokes, Lawrence, Bairstow, Moeen, Woakes, Broad, Anderson Squad players: Robson, Browne, Plunkett, Leach, Foster (wk)

Mark Stoneman just holds his place, while Dawid Malan’s style should be suited to Australian pitches. Dan Lawrence is the best young batsman on the circut and brimming with confidence. Among the spares, Sam Robson is probably the next best of the openers available and Nick Browne probably the next best after Robson. Cummins and Starc will go hard at England and we need to be able to return fire with fire if we go one down so Liam Plunkett gets the nod. Jack Leach turns the ball, takes wickets and looks a bit like Nathan Lyon and while back up keepers have little to do on tour these days, James Foster wouldn’t let anyone down if YJB does a finger. I’d have Jake Ball and Mark Wood in Australia and ready should the call come. I wouldn’t take Haseeb Hameed nor Toby Roland-Jones as you can’t carry an injury into an Ashes Tour. This selection acknowledges that England have gone down a few dead ends recently. Tom Westley’s technique isn’t good enough, Adil Rashid isn’t trusted enough as he could lose a Test in a session, Liam Dawson is a subcontinent-only contender and Alex Hales and Jos Buttler appeared to have followed Eoin Morgan into white ball specialisms. Looks like we need that first XI fit and firing!

Will Cockerell (aka @willvlc)

1 Trescothick. [Homesickness no longer an issue. Ellie and Millie now barely acknowledge him in the mornings or look up from their Ipads. They won’t notice he’s gone]

2 Chef. We write “chef” on our dressing room door’s team, Oz will be naturally expecting Cook, but are faced with our actual chef in a toque blanche not a helmet, and will be in major “wtf?” territory.

3 KP. [Strauss takes a training course in “how to manage people and not be a vindictive child”.]

4 Root

5 Vaughan. MPV can turn back on his 02-03 form now; like Samson, he has his hair back.

6 Stokes

7 Knott. Still beautifully economical in his movements and his 50 at Old Trafford ’81 shows he’s still got it.

8 Moeen

9 Botham. Will pick at old wounds and the sight of him wobbling in will cause the Aussies to do something stupid. He’ll get a flukey three-fer somewhere to swing a game.

10 Chris Broad – Oz will be expecting Stuey, so when this petulant grump marches out and starts smashing his stumps all over the stadium, the nightmares of 86/87 will resurface

11 John Snow. Just put him down at fine leg. Important to have someone who can deal with drunk or drug-affected fans, who’s experienced in dodging missiles after Stokes starts bouncing the tail. Illingworth threw a fit and took us from the field in ’71, but Snow was actually enjoying it, and Root can just crack on.


Hales – obviously, derrrr

Samit Patel – ditto

Rashid – ditto

Finny – ditto

Flintoff – bit of a reach, but you know he’d say yes if asked

Underwood – three needed for his 300, slip him in for Moeen at Sydney.

Tomorrow lunchtime: The Guerilla Youth Wing (Ed, Nakul, Ben and Chris have their say