The Investec Ashes 2013 July 6, 2013

Root to open as England name Test squad


England have confirmed the ascent of Joe Root to opener for the Ashes by naming a 13-man squad devoid of surprises for the first Investec Test at Trent Bridge, beginning on Wednesday. The return of Kevin Pietersen, who missed England's last three Tests against New Zealand with a knee injury, means Nick Compton drops out, while Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann have both been passed fit.

The announcement means there is no late reprieve for Compton, who scored back-to-back Test centuries in New Zealand in March but struggled in the return series. He was left out of England's warm-up match against Essex, with Root moved up to partner Alastair Cook and Jonny Bairstow retaining his place in the middle-order, and despite making runs in two successive tour matches against Australia he has lost his place after nine Tests and 479 runs at an average of 31.93.

Root made 41 and 26 at the top of the order against Essex, while Bairstow was not at his most fluent in scoring a brace of twenties. England, however, had signposted their thinking with the announcement of the squad to play Essex, when the national selector, Geoff Miller, described Root as "currently the best opening partner for Alastair Cook". The young Yorkshire pair are the only members of the squad yet to play in an Ashes Test.

Compton made just 39 in four innings against New Zealand in May and Andy Flower, the England team director, said after the Headingley Test that Compton had to get back to scoring runs for his county. He made a century and two fifties in first-class cricket for Somerset, as well as 79 playing for Worcestershire against the Australians, and the decision to drop him against Essex prompted Compton to claim he had not been given "a fair crack of the whip" by England.

Pietersen is back after several months out with bruising to his right knee bone, having only played one first-class innings since March - although that was a knock of 177 not out for Surrey two weeks ago. Tim Bresnan is involved with the Test side for the first time since elbow surgery over the winter and will likely vie with Steven Finn and Graham Onions for the third seamer's spot.

Onions' inclusion could also be precautionary, after Broad missed the game against Essex and required a cortisone injection in a shoulder injury sustained during the Champions Trophy final - although he declared his confidence that he would be "100 percent right" on Thursday. Swann, too, was briefly the subject of anxiety after being struck on the forearm by Essex's Tymal Mills but fears of a broken bone were quickly dispelled.

"This is an incredibly exciting period of cricket coming up against Australia and we know we will need to play to our full potential throughout the entire Investec Ashes series if we are to retain the Ashes," Miller said. "We are satisfied with our preparations so far ahead of the first Test with both Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad recovering well from the injuries they picked up earlier this week. The squad will continue their hard work over the next few days and will be eagerly anticipating the start of the series on Wednesday at Trent Bridge."

England squad: Alastair Cook (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Graham Onions, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on July 8, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    Root to open in an Ashes series.. wow! What an honour and responsibility - and he's only 22....

  • H on July 8, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    @JG2704 yeah, I'm not underestimating the Aussies at all, especially that bowling attack. They've got more depth and variety than we have and I'd say their bowlers are more incisive. Their batting has talent and I'd say the only edge England have is experience. Lehmann's own playing experience will be handy and that's why his appointment has probably made this anyone's series. I back us to do it, but that's mostly because of my bias as a fan, if I'm honest.

    And if we're going to talk about series performances, the South Africa series both spring to mind. We were supposedly favourites going into that, yet at no time did we look like it. Meanwhile Australia were expected to get steamrollered and until the last Test they were not only in the contest, but on top. They had South Africa on the ropes at Brisbane and only a stellar knock denied them in Adelaide.

    Not sure either series is relevant, but the South Africa series were at least played in conditions similar to the ones we'll see.

  • Clifford on July 8, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    England's brittle fast bowling lineup is their major concern over these Ashes series. A couple injuries/bowlers out of form and it starts becoming difficult.

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    Big decision from England for dropping Compton and Root has been upgraded as an Opener. Root is an excellent player and will play for a long innings for England however I am thinking that it is a very haste decision by England by making him an Opener.

    Root has all the three qualities, a great batsman, great fielder and very useful spinner which makes him ideal for a test side like England who normally play one spinner only. If that spinner can't bowl or the pitch is taking turn, he will be extremely useful. I still prefer Root to come three down and instead Bell could open the innings with Cook.

  • John on July 8, 2013, 7:59 GMT

    @H_Z_O on (July 7, 2013, 15:17 GMT) Yeah understand your points. Not sure what the logistics are of preparing a spinning pitch but I'm sure it's not as straightforward as some make out although with this hot weather burst I'd have thought it was more doable. I still think we should have tried a 5/1/5 on several occasions in the last few years and I don't think (since India) England have been that brilliant and certainly not as sorted as the media make out. You look at the series results and I'd say only the India away result was above our expectatioins and even in that series we made an awful selection blunder in the 1st test - did we learn nothing from UAE? NZ/WI home were expected and NZ home was only made to feel better because of the away struggle. The other 4 series were all below par results. I'm certainly not expecting Aus to get thrashed in this one based on one poor series in India. Take that out and since India 2011 I'd say Aus have done better

  • John on July 8, 2013, 3:14 GMT

    @SDH12 on (July 7, 2013, 19:01 GMT), I'm guessing that the inclusion of Onions was primarily because of the injury cloud over Stuart Broad. If Broad isn't fit in time then that means Anderson, Finn and Bresnan would be the three seamers and Onions would be the cover for a last minute injury. Once the XI is named, I'd expect Onions to be released back to Durham. Unfortunately, their game against Derbs will be mostly done by then. Maybe he'll be released in time for the start of that game if Broad proves his fitness in time. It doesn't really benefit anyone for Onions to miss out on playing the Test and the CC game, except Derbs and possibly Australia.

  • Dummy4 on July 7, 2013, 22:24 GMT

    My prediction is Compton will be back during this Ashes series at some point. As good a player Root is, he may or may not struggle opening the batting against a quality Australian bowling attack. With Bairstow, well he might play a brilliant knock, but the way he plays, you'd think that he'd fail more than he'd succeed. What's going to happen is either Root will struggle up the order, or Bairstow will struggle down the order. In the worst possible scenario for England, both will struggle. But one of them will struggle, methinks that will be Bairstow, and than, Root will be moved down the order and Compton will be called back.

  • stuart on July 7, 2013, 21:42 GMT

    For those seeming Indian fans bemoaning Monty.He was backed by English fans and team.Trouble is that he needs pitches in his favour and does not have the guile to bowl that well in England.Warnes joke about him having played the same test a number of times is unfortunately true. We would all love to see Monty in full flow but he has done nowt this year for Sussex.

  • Dummy4 on July 7, 2013, 19:35 GMT

    Dropping Nick Compton is going to haunt and hurt England. This man did everything that was asked of him, and he's been dropped for having one bad series. Maybe we as fans do not appreciate what it means to carry the weight of a family legacy. How well has someone like Ben Hutton or Rohan Gavaskar done in Test cricket? The answer is: nothing at all. Neither one of them have represented their country at the highest form of the game. Nick Compton carried the weight of his family name and has already scored 2 hundreds at the highest level and forced his way into an England XI at the age of 29.

    I am of the opinion that this man Compton is a very strong character and he deserves a place in the starting XI for England.

    I've lost all respect for Andy Flower. He's worse than a Line Manager in the Corporate World who blindly favours one employee at the expense of another. Andy Flower has used different yardsticks to measure what Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow have done and what Nick Compton did!

  • Samuel on July 7, 2013, 19:01 GMT

    Not really sure why they're dragging Onions around - we know he won't play, so it's just depriving him of game time for Durham, where he can stay match sharp and then called on if needed. On the other hand, it shows clear intent to play him at some point during this series, which is not a bad move with these 10 Tests coming up. I know there's an injury concern over Broad but you'd think Bresnan would be the injury cover in that case.

    Anyway, I don't have the concerns over the batting line-up that some have. It is indeed harsh on Compton, who, being a Somerset fan, I'm a big supporter of & would love to have seen him retain his place, but the move to bring in Bairstow reminds me of the one to bring in KP in 2005. JB's not in that class, but he is exciting. He's got cojones of steel too, as shown by his return against SA last year. Basically, I think Bairstow can win you a game off his own bat, technical issues and all. I'm not sure Compton can. It's a gamble, but an exciting one.