Marcus Harris and Joe Burns (right) are in contention for an Ashes spot.
Marcus Harris and Joe Burns (right) are in contention for an Ashes spot.

Ashes selection tracker: who’s in and who’s out?

The maths for the selectors are simple: 16 names from 25 will make the squad for the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston starting on August 1.

Around 10 of those spots look inked in, but the competition for other places has been encouragingly intense on Australia A's trip around the UK.

A tour that will culminate in an extraordinary face off between two teams of Aussies still hoping to get the Ashes nod at Southampton starting on July 23.

 

Marcus Harris is well set to open the batting with David Warner in the forthcoming Ashes.
Marcus Harris is well set to open the batting with David Warner in the forthcoming Ashes.

 

Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns' panel is well advanced in its planning but the next fortnight could yet make or break the dreams of many hoping to be part of Australia's quest for their first Test series win in England since 2001, especially those vying to be the reserve paceman and reserve batsman in the touring party.

"We're going to have some guys that are really unlucky to miss out on this Ashes squad," captain Tim Paine said.

 

So, with 10 days to go until the squad is announced, who is making their case and who still has work to do to convince?

 

 

ASHES CONTENDERS:

Marnus Labuschagne

Australia's incumbent No. 4, Labuschagne's prospects of retaining his place diminished after a couple of failures against Sri Lanka in the Canberra Test and a less than fruitful finish to the last Sheffield Shield season, but is a strong shout for selection after a fine showing in his County Championship stint with Glamorgan.

The first batsman to 1000 runs - albeit in the second division - at an average in the 70s may have done enough to convince Justin Langer, with whom Labuschagne shares a phenomenal work ethic, he is worth persisting with.

His ability to send down some passable leg breaks may also go in his favour if selectors elect to go in with just a single spinner and rely on the part-timers to offer support.

ASHES CHANCES 7/10

 

 

Marnus Labuschagne has been in the runs with County Championship side Glamorgan.
Marnus Labuschagne has been in the runs with County Championship side Glamorgan.

 

Matthew Wade

Wade last played a Test for Australia in late 2017 but is making a compelling case for a return. The second highest run scorer in the Sheffield Shield last season, with 1021 runs at 60.05, he has carried that form to the Australia A tour of the UK with three centuries and more than 40 on his two 'failures'.

His wicket-keeping is an extra bow should Australia feel they need back-up for Paine, but it will be as an aggressive specialist batsman if he does get the nod. Had to retire hurt in a recent tour match but the medical report is that the injury wasn't serious.

ASHES CHANCES 7/10

 

Usman Khawaja

A first pick when fully fit, Khawaja is still recovering from a hamstring injury picked up on World Cup duty, placing a question mark over his ability to contribute from the first Test. Is also unsure of taking part in the Australia v Australia A match in Southampton, with Trevor Hohns saying: "It would be ideal preparation but we can't push that at the moment, he's in the hands of the medicos and we'll take advice from them."

ASHES CHANCES 8/10

 

Marcus Harris

Harris shapes as Warner's most likely partner at the top of the order, his spot only in any doubt due to an encouraging run of form from others who covet the place.

A stunning Sheffield Shield season - in which he eventually top scored with 1188 at 69.88 and ended with a match-winning century in the final - brought him a Test debut against India in the home summer, where he scored two half centuries in a showing that proved he could handle the big stage. Having missed out on the Sri Lanka series he has been in fine form on Australia A's tour of the UK.

ASHES CHANCES 8/10

Kurtis Patterson

Took his Test opportunity with an unbeaten 114 against Sri Lanka in his debut series in February, Australia's last long-form outing, and so may feel he deserves to play the first Ashes Test. A genuine talent, though may suffer from the squeeze on places with the return of Steve Smith and David Warner.

ASHES CHANCES 5/10

 

Kurtis Patterson hit a century in his debut Test series against Sri Lanka earlier this year.
Kurtis Patterson hit a century in his debut Test series against Sri Lanka earlier this year.

 

Joe Burns

Burns was many people's pick to open the batting this series thanks to his impressive record of four centuries from 16 Test matches - his last in the Sri Lanka series earlier in the year - and an average north of 40. Though a question mark has been placed over him after returning from County Championship duty with a fatigue-related illness at the start of the English season.

Happily over that now he has joined the Australia A tour and immediately returned to the runs but his place in the side remains less certain than it was a few months ago.

ASHES CHANCES 6/10

Michael Neser

Neser is well-regarded for his ability to get big swing with the English Dukes ball which will be used in the Ashes. And the Queenslander is in form after taking 20 wickets in the final four games of the Sheffield Shield season, at an average of 16.9, when, significantly, the Dukes ball was used. He also averages close to 27 with the bat in first class cricket and could edge out Mitchell Marsh for the all-rounder role.

ASHES CHANCES 5/10

 

Michael Neser offers something with both bat and ball.
Michael Neser offers something with both bat and ball.

 

Peter Handscomb

Handscomb's current visit to England has not been an entirely happy one.

Drafted in as an injury replacement for the World Cup semi-final, he could not replicate the form that took him close to selection for the original squad, scoring just four runs as Australia were comprehensively beaten by eventual champions England.

Centrally contracted, the selectors clearly view Handscomb as a key member of the set-up going forward though he faces stiff competition for a middle order batting position and, though it would raise eyebrows if he missed out on a second national selection on the bounce, he is by no means a certainty to make the cut.

ASHES CHANCES 7/10

 

Peter Siddle

Siddle has taken 43 wickets touring the UK at an average of 28.37 from his 11 Tests played, though has only featured in seven matches since the 2015 Ashes.

However, he has been in sparkling form for Essex this season, claiming over 30 scalps at an average a touch over 20.

Australia are likely to pick five pace bowlers to manage the load of a gruelling series and his stump to stump reliability could be useful.

ASHES CHANCES 5/10

 

Peter Siddle has a wealth of Ashes experience behind him.
Peter Siddle has a wealth of Ashes experience behind him.

Cameron Bancroft

The third man in the sandpapergate shambles, Bancroft's position in the squad was not as secure as Smith and Warner's and so it has been a longer road back to the side for him, one he is still travelling.

Has impressed most commentators with his performances for Durham in the County Championship, where he has struck 726 runs at 45.37 while captaining.

For all that it would still be a big call to have him open with Warner in front of a rabid, partisan England crowd, but the numbers are in his favour.

ASHES CHANCES 4.5/10

 

ASHES LONG SHOTS:

Jackson Bird

An honest toiler who has never let Australia down, Bird's chances seem slim purely due to the quality of pace bowlers ahead of him in the pecking order. Has been an effective weapon as a new ball bowler on the Australia A tour but his most likely route to the squad rests as much on the fitness of the likes of Pattinson and Hazlewood as it does on his own efforts.

ASHES CHANCES 1/10

 

Jackson Bird’s chances of making the Ashes squad remains slim.
Jackson Bird’s chances of making the Ashes squad remains slim.

Alex Carey

Touted as a future Test keeper - and captain - Carey had a breakout tournament in the World Cup, Australia's one shining success in an ultimately unsuccessful campaign.

His 375 runs at 62.50, at a strike rate of 104.16, showed he had both the technique and temperament for the big stage.

This Ashes series might have come too soon for him, though expert judges in Shane Warne and Steve Waugh have put forward his case for inclusion on his batting alone.

ASHES CHANCES 3/10

 

Jon Holland

Should Australia deem a back-up spinner a necessary inclusion in the squad, Holland is the man in pole position, though that is not a certainty with Hohns saying it is a question still under consideration.

The Victorian has done plenty on the Australia A tour to make his case, claiming six wickets in the emphatic victory over Sussex earlier this month.

The 32-year-old has been the stand out slow bowler in the Sheffield Shield over the last three years and has played four Test matches, in Sri Lanka in 2016 and against Pakistan in the UAE last October, where his struggles were shared by the team in difficult conditions.

This series shapes as his last realistic shot at further Test honours.

ASHES CHANCES 3/10

 

Will Pucovski

An uncapped squad member in the last Test summer, Pucovski remains an outside bet for an Ashes nod, though put his case forward with a century in Australia A's tight nine-run win over Gloucestershire at Bristol.

That after a tidy half-century in the opening match of the tour.

A future Test star in the making but will likely have to wait for his chance.

ASHES CHANCES 1/10

 

Chris Tremain

Tremain's 138 wickets at 21 across the last three Sheffield Shield seasons brought him to the fringes of the Test side when named in the squad for the opening two Tests against India last year.

He didn't get a start, however, and looks likely to sit outside the final selection again for the Ashes.

Should he be picked he will be in full form and fitness (the latter not necessarily true around the India series) and he has looked sharp in the UK this month.

Possibly ahead of Bird in selectors' thoughts, he appears in a battle with Siddle for the fifth quick position.

ASHES CHANCES 3/10

 

Mitchell Marsh

Drafted in to the World Cup training camp when Marcus Stoinis' fitness was in doubt, Marsh wasn't needed in the end when his fellow all-rounder recovered from a side strain.

Australia are desperate to include a seam bowling all-rounder for the sake of balance in the side but the recent vice-captain looks to have dropped out of favour, not for the first time in his career.

But the master of the second, or third or fourth chances should not be discounted as an option.

ASHES CHANCES 2/10

 

 

ASHES 'CERTAINTIES':

David Warner

Returned to the Australian side after his 12-month ban and redeemed by runs - the second most in the World Cup in England. Has never scored a Test century in England but guaranteed to open at Edgbaston.

ASHES CHANCES 10/10

 

Pat Cummins

The Allan Border medallist endured an underwhelming World Cup by his own high standards, but remains a chief weapon in the whites and his consistency and reliability will be invaluable in these Ashes.

ASHES CHANCES 10/10

 

Josh Hazlewood

Should be well rested after controversially being left out of the World Cup squad while recovering from injury. Will be expected to run in hard in all five Tests now his body is fixed. And should be fired up to prove the folly of his ODI omission.

ASHES CHANCES 10/10

 

Josh Hazlewood was rested from the World Cup to have him fit and firing in time for the Ashes.
Josh Hazlewood was rested from the World Cup to have him fit and firing in time for the Ashes.

 

Nathan Lyon

A nemesis for England in the last series on home soil, Lyon has a wealth of experience from a number of Ashes conflicts and is one of the first names on the team sheet.

ASHES CHANCES 10/10

 

Tim Paine

Australia's Test captain is guaranteed his place by virtue of his calm, effective leadership in the wake of the Newlands scandal and his status as the best gloveman available, though will need to contribute with the bat after a relatively barren run in the Australian home summer.

ASHES CHANCES 10/10

 

Steve Smith

Still working his way back in to the national set-up after the emotional burden he has had to carry in the last 18 months. Showed flashes of his old self in the World Cup without dominating bowlers.

A proven performer in England, though, and much will be expected of him at first drop.

ASHES CHANCES 10/10

 

Steve Smith made contributions to the team but his World Cup ended in frustration.
Steve Smith made contributions to the team but his World Cup ended in frustration.

 

Mitchell Starc

Having taken more wickets in a single World Cup than anyone before him, Starc is set to terrorise English batsmen with the Dukes ball where his ability to get it swinging will make him arguably an even more potent threat.

ASHES CHANCES 10/10

 

Travis Head

An incumbent in Australia's middle order, Head has been busy carving up admittedly weak English bowlers on the Australia A tour. But you can only play what's in front of you and Head has done nothing to imperil his place in the side.

ASHES CHANCES 9.5/10

 

James Pattinson

A bowler who strikes fear in to England fans due to his ability to swing it both ways and at electric pace, exploiting the extra movement with the Dukes ball at the tail end of a successful Sheffield Shield season. Now free from injury he could be a decisive weapon in this series.

ASHES CHANCES 9.5/10

News Corp Australia


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