England appear to have most bases covered for this summer’s Ashes but continued success from players in the LV= Insurance County Championship might just give selectors pause for thought.
After all, five Tests in just six and a half weeks will stretch England’s resources – it is doubtful any pace bowler will be an ever-present – while injuries or loss of form cannot be discounted.
With the first two rounds of the red-ball season in the books, the PA news agency looks at those who have stood out.
If there is an Ashes spot to be grabbed, it is likely as an opening batter with Zak Crawley’s position under scrutiny. A growing threat is his fellow opener at Kent, whose unbeaten fourth-innings ton sealed a win over Northamptonshire recently. The South Africa-born left-hander, who had a breakout 2022 and is averaging 94.7 in his last six first-class matches with four centuries and a double hundred, ticks a few boxes but an old-fashioned temperament in patience at the crease and grinding out runs is perhaps at odds with the more attacking philosophy England have fostered under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes.
The Hong Kong-born, Australia-raised batter has put up impressive limited-overs numbers for years although England’s surfeit of options meant he has not had a look in. First-class success has been more intermittent although back-to-back tons against Somerset and Kent have taken the Warwickshire man’s career average north of 40. A season average of 284 seems unsustainable while his success has come in the middle order, where England are already scratching their heads at how to fit everyone in.