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. These are the thoughts of the Guerilla Cricket Youth Wing. And yes, with curious votes for YJB to open, three wicketkeepers, and a quite frankly unhealthy passion for Gary Ballance, you may think they were born yesterday.
Nakul Pande (aka @nakulmpande)
Starting XI for the Gabba: Cook, Stoneman, Root, Bairstow, Malan, Stokes, Buttler (wk), Moeen, Woakes, Broad, Anderson. Squad players: Hales, Foakes, Finn, Wood (if fit, else Liam Plunkett), Ball, Crane
Stoneman seems to be growing into his role as a Test opener, far more so than any other recent contender, with the exception of the crocked Hameed. Hameed would have been my pick for No 3, but with him injured and Westley so uncertain, there seems little option but for Root to move up one. Malan and Hales at Nos 4 and 5 has a shaky look to it, and with no-one else making a serious case, the time is ripe for the excellent Bairstow to become a pure batsman. Buttler didn’t let anyone down in his Test return in India with the bat, is at least the equal of YJB as a keeper on true pitches, and would fit well in England’s potentially devastating lower order. Woakes seems fit and firing again, and with poor TRJ injured walks back in.As for the replacements: Hales would be a more than useful backup in the middle order, and should he be pressed into service as an opener may find Australian pitches more to his liking. Foakes is a fine keeper and has had a has had a strong year with the bat. Finn’s return to form could not have been better-timed, and as Australia discovered at Edgbaston two summers ago, there aren’t many trickier to face when it all clicks. Wood’s heel issues could potentially rob England of a bowler who provides not only pace but a very different threat to Anderson and Woakes’ swing and the backup battery. of tall, hit-the- deck bowlers. Plunkett would however be a very solid fallback. If England’s fielders could start holding some catches off Ball, his persistence and ability to bowl long spells could allow the likes of Anderson much needed-respite. Crane’s T20 outing against South Africa may mean little in an Ashes series, but his Sheffield Shield experience with New South Wales – that’s a different story. In any case,Adil Rashid seems persona non grata at Test level, and Liam Dawson would be a cautious selection at best.
Katy Scott (aka @ithilienorthend)
Starting XI for the Gabba: Cook, Bairstow (wk), Stoneman, Root, Malan, Stokes, Moeen, Woakes, Broad, Wood, Anderson. Squad players: Jennings, Hameed, Ballance, Foakes (wk), Ball, Rashid
I’m really sad that Toby Roland-Jones (Toblerone to his fans) is out this winter thanks to a back fracture, as I would definitely have given him a place in the XI at Brisbane. However, his absence allows me to pick Mark Wood – one of my favourite cricketers both for his madcap personality and his excellent jingle. I’m picking Bairstow as keeper and pushing him up the order as he’s been opening in the short form for England and Yorkshire. It might prove a bit too much pressure for him over five Tests though, so I’ve got Foakes as back-up wicket keeper (providing the coveted possibility of a Stokes-Foakes-Woakes middle order) and Keaton Jennings ready to cover the opening spot. Hameed is coming along because he’s so keen he’d probably turn up at the airport even if he wasn’t invited, and Ballance is coming because he loves partying in Australia.
Chris Deeley (aka @thatchris1209)
Starting XI for the Gabba: Cook, Stoneman, Ballance, Root, Malan, Bairstow (wk), Stokes, Moeen, Woakes, Broad, Anderson. Squad players Buttler (wk), Patel, Rashid, Alex Davies, Plunkett, Wood
So the thing about Gary Ballance, right, is that he’s dead good at cricket. England’s most successful Test number three since David Gower, all he needs – as most threes do – is for his openers to actually do their fucking jobs and not force him to come out to bat in the fifth over time and time again. He averages 46.5 with four centuries at three in Tests for England. Only Kumar Sangakkara has bettered his County Championship average of 77.75 this season (and how!) – and it’s not like he’s done it on batting paradises. How can you tell? Yorkshire’s next-best averaging batsman, noted Actual Australia Test Batsman Peter Handscomb, has a County average of 33.92 this season. He’s more than twice as good. With stats. And numbers. Get. Him.On.The. Plane.I also like Alex Davies as a non-keeping middle-order batsman; he’s going to be shit-hot soon.
Ben Jones (aka @benjones_13)
Starting XI for the Gabba: Hameed Cook Root. Vince Bairstow Stokes Moeen Foakes (wk) Woakes Broad Anderson. Squad players: Stoneman, Ball, Rashid, Finn, Hales, Wood
Remember last winter? Bleak time. Trump, musicians dropping like flies, that disappointing Sherlock finale. The one bit of hope, of light at the end of the tunnel, was Haseeb Hameed, and we’ve since shown we do not deserve him. This beautiful throwback, who you’ve all decided can’t play Test cricket because he didn’t score any against some lad at Chelmsford on a Wednesday. Pick the genius. Back him. Jimmy Vince gets back in because, guess what, when the ball’s not swinging around English corners, he won’t nick off as much. Pick him at 4, and if the top three works as it should, he’ll score quickly, and hurt the Aussies.Foakes gets a go because let’s be honest, we’ve not got a glut of middle order quality. Bairstow is better than all of them, so let him loose, and we’ll have the second best keeper in the country take the gloves. (Yes, second best, because you’d crucify me for picking Ben Cox.).A quick sidenote: I think Jake Ball will clean up this winter, if he gets a game. Will end the series with better numbers than Woakes. Guaranteed.
David Franklin (aka davidfranklin88 or @franklycricket)
Starting XI for the Gabba: Cook, Stoneman, Ballance, Root, Hales, Bairstow, Stokes, Moeen, Woakes, Broad, Anderson. Squad players: Patel, Archer, Malan, Ball, Leach, Foakes (wk)
Haseeb Hameed’s interenaitonal career – surely to be long and distinguished – is on hold for a few months, with a tonless season for Lancashire leaving him out of the running. Gary Ballance returns after another barnstorming year for Yorkshire: his overall first-class average of 49 is light years ahead of the competition, with no other England hopeful averaging more than 38. Hales at five will give the Kookaburra ball the biffing it deserves; Bairstow is promoted above Stokes and the rest pick themselves. Samit Patel warms the bench after being hugely unfortunatel to miss out over the summer and Jofra Archer is rewarded for an explosive year with Sussex as the first-choice seam replacement. Jack Leach comes in as an additional spin option with Adil Rashid in for the ODIs but to expensive to be considered for the Tests.
ED BENSON!!! (aka @The_Ed_Benson or @theshoutyone)
Starting XI for the Gabba: Cook, Stoneman, Root, Bairstow, Hales, Stokes, Buttler (wk), Moeen, Woakes, Broad, Anderson. Squad players: Wood (If you’re lightning quick you’re unpredictable) Finn (If you’re unpredictable you fit perfectly in the England set up); Hameed (If you fit perfectly in the England set up you’re old enough); Patel (If you’re old enough you’re ready to seize your chance immediately); Malan (If you’re ready to seize your chance immediately you’re obviously a foreign import);Ballance (If you’re obviously a foreign import you’re good enough)
The captain bats where ‘He’ wants. Unfortunately for Joe for the purposes of the tour the selectors are Gods, and barring divine revelation in the last championship game of the summer there is truly only one option to come in at first drop to face Australia’s fab four at the Gabba. Pushing Bairstow up to four stops the second best batsman in England being wasted at seven and allows for an explosive counterattack down the order, Moeen and Buttler being the stuff of Nathan Lyon’s nightmares (and that’s after the Aussie’s have got through Stokes and Hales!). The bowlers are inarguable if fit, unless Mark Wood kills someone in the nets when England are one down and need to roll the dice.