England Cricket Board (ECB) on Sunday announced the squad for the Ashes. The board named the strongest squad available despite speculations of few England players not available for selections. Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, however, continue to be on the sidelines for different reasons. While Stokes is on a mental health break, Jofra Archer is recovering from an injury. Zak Crawley, Dan Lawrence and Dom Bess, who were dropped from the series against India, have been recalled, while Haseeb Hameed has held on to his spot after impressive performance against India.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain feels that England have named a very predictable squad and could have gambled on a couple of players. Hussain feels that Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson could have been picked in the squad, adding that Mahmood could have thrived in Australian conditions owing to his ability to generate reverse swing.
“England have picked a very predictable Ashes squad, avoiding selecting any uncapped players and refusing to take any kind of risk. The two surprises for me were overlooking Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson. Saqib would have given a different element to the attack in Australian conditions with his skiddy reverse swing, in the absence of the pace of Jofra Archer and Olly Stone.”
Hussain further said England could have preferred Matt Parkinson or Mason Crane over Dom Bess. “And I would have gone for Parkinson’s leg-spin instead of Dom Bess. I would have liked a bit of wrist spin available to me as captain — if not Parkinson, then Mason Crane.”
The 53-year-old also expressed disappointment over the non-selection of Liam Livingstone, adding that he could have been an apt substitute for Ben Stokes. “I’d also have taken a punt on Liam Livingstone, an in-your-face, confident cricketer in the mould of Kevin Pietersen and Ben Stokes. He’s someone who could take the attack to the opposition from his natural, middle-order position. The absence of Stokes is the biggest concern. It gives England a massive selection headache. Without him, it will be a nightmare trying to balance the side and I envisage England going into matches with an all-seam attack backed up by Root’s off-spin.”