Underdogs England confirm squad for Ashes defence

England have announced their squad that will defend the Ashes this winter with three uncapped players named in their 16-man party to face Australia, which also includes vice-captain Ben Stokes.

Stokes has a broken hand following an incident in a Bristol nightclub, that also led to his arrest – but he is expected to recover in time for the trip Down Under.

As well as uncapped trio Craig Overton, Ben Foakes and Mason Crane – there are recalls for James Vince and Garry Ballance meaning Tom Westley and Keaton Jennings miss out.

Jake Ball is preferred to Mark Wood and Toby Roland-Jones – who both have injury concerns.

“A tour of Australia is the ultimate test for our squad. We have provided Joe Root and Trevor Bayliss with a well-balanced squad with options in all areas,” said the national selector James Whitaker.

Bookmakers are far from convinced about England’s chances and Australia are odds-on at 1/2 with England at 11/4.

As for the team, the only spot that looks open is the final batting role, with Dawid Malan firm favourite to start ahead of Ballance at 2/5 compared to 6/5 for the Yorkshire batsman.

“The betting suggests the team more or less picks itself for the First Test, however, the one position which is likely to be up for grabs is number five in the batting order where Dawid Malan is odds-on to get the nod over Gary Ballance,” said Coral’s John Hill.


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