Graham Thorpe

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A squad that can win the Ashes

I like the look of the 16-man squad England have named for the Ashes, and I am confident they have what it takes to retain the urn.

 

The selections for this winter were never going to throw up too many surprises.

 

England have won six series in all formats of the game this summer, and the team is reaping the rewards of having a settled side - and a strong side.

 

The key issues the selectors had to resolve were the extra bowling options and the second wicketkeeper.

 

Steven Davies has done himself no harm in the Pakistan one-day series, so he is in as cover for Matt Prior.

 

Monty Panesar gets the nod as the second spinner, and I think that is the right choice too.

 

The decision on seamers will have been much tighter, and eventually will have come down to a very close battle between Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett and Ajmal Shahzad for two places.

 

I haven't watched too much of Shahzad, but I've been impressed with the bits I have seen. He strikes me as a skiddy bowler who is capable of getting reverse swing.

 

I might have favoured him over Bresnan because he offers something a little different, and Bresnan may not get as much out of the Australian wickets.

 

Some might view the choice of Tremlett as a gamble, but I don't see it that way.

 

I've had the opportunity to watch him close-up at Surrey this season. He has bowled consistently well all year and offers extra pace and bounce which could be invaluable.

 

If any of England's bowlers fail to hit their straps, Tremlett will provide an excellent alternative option.

 

And as the England Performance Programme Squad will be in Australia as well there will be no problem calling up replacements who are familiar with the conditions and have matches under their belt.

 

In short, I think the England squad stands up well to the best line-up the Australians can produce.

 

Of course, seeing it on paper and doing it in practice is two different things. It will take a lot of hard work to succeed in Australia.

 

The batsmen will have to turn starts into centuries, and the bowlers must hunt as a pack.

 

And our two matchwinners, Kevin Pietersen with the bat, and Graeme Swann with the ball, will need to be at their best.

 

But perhaps one silver lining of the troubled series with Pakistan is that the players will have learned something about performing when in the spotlight, and I think the team has come closer together as a result.

 

The Australians will always try to get an advantage over you before you have even taken the field - so the ability to block that pressure out and concentrate on your own game is crucial.

 

Courtesy: Yahoo! Eurosport UK

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