Here’s who should be in the England XI for the first Ashes Test of 2023

Following the latest Ashes humiliation, Matt Whiley selects an England Test team that we can finally be proud of.

The mood among English cricket fans at the moment is, largely, one of 'well, thank goodness that's over'.

Defeat for the Three Lions in the fifth Ashes Test in Hobart compounded another humbling in Australia, their third consecutive tour Down Under in which they failed to win a single match. Of the 30 Tests between the two old enemies since 2000, England have emerged victorious in just four of them.

But when we're ready to do it all again in the summer of 2023, the defeats will be forgotten and the optimism will have returned.

Here, Matt Whiley chooses an England XI worthy of that faith for when Australia arrive on these shores for the next installment of the Ashes.

1. Tom Haines (Sussex)

Tom Haines Sep20

Age on August 1, 2023: 24

First-class batting average: 34.03

Left-handed opener Haines burst onto the scene last year as the County Championship's leading run-scorer, racking up 1,176 over 25 innings at 47.04. His season-best score of 156 came in a September clash with Middlesex in which he also became the first man to pass 1,000 Championship runs for the season.

In the mould of Keaton Jennings, Haines is also a useful right-arm bowling option, with ten wickets under his belt thanks to his part-time medium pace. He will need to replicate his sterling form over the next 18 months to force his way into England's plans, but this prodigious talent certainly has the ability to do so.

2. Dom Sibley (Warwickshire)

Dom Sibley Sep21

Age on August 1, 2023: 27

First-class batting average: 38.30

Sibley has already made his bow in the Test arena, racking up 22 appearances in the longest format since debuting against New Zealand in 2019.

Since then, however, he was dropped for the third Test versus India last August and opted out of the Lions this winter to focus on regaining his form.

If he has managed to do that, he really should not be far away from returning to England's plans, and could even do so as soon as March's tour of the West Indies.

The flak he cops for scoring too slowly is entirely unjustified, with this winter's travails underlining just how much England need that sort of steel and patience.

He should still have at least a decade left in the game, and with a temperament perfectly suited to Test cricket, will be among the first in line to return to the national side.

3. Zak Crawley (Kent)

Zak Crawley England Jan22

Age on August 1, 2023: 25

First-class batting average: 31.13

Much like Sibley, in Crawley England have an enormously talented young batter who in all honesty, simply needs an extended run of games to fully nail down a spot in the top order. Whether the Kent man can compete at the top level is not in doubt, with his sumptuous 267 against Pakistan in 2020 underlining it.

His height enables him to counteract the short ball; a useful tool to have when facing Australian quicks. What is important now is that he is given the time to add to his 18 Test caps and focuses himself on bridging the gap between talent and productivity.

4. Joe Root (c) (Yorkshire)

Joe Root England Jan22

Age on August 1, 2023: 32

First-class batting average: 48.53

One of very few cast-iron certainties in this line-up, Root will definitely still be in the side in 18 months, and will almost certainly be captain too.

He is currently ranked as the second-best Test batter in the world and is coming off the most productive calendar year by an England batter, notching 1,708 runs at 61.

There may be question marks over his captaincy, but anyone questioning his batting ability either knows very little about cricket or has had one too many.

He is head and shoulders above the rest of his side and barring something catastrophic, will be at number four for the foreseeable future.

5. Harry Brook (Yorkshire)

Harry Brook Yorkshire Sep21

Age on August 1, 2023: 24

First-class batting average: 27.63

Brook has, over the past 12 months, become more known for his big-hitting exploits than his Test-level calm temperament. However, his middle-order abilities have shown they can be translated across all formats. He was Yorkshire's second-highest County Championship run-scorer in 2021, with 797, and his stock is rising fast.

Classically coached and technically sound as a result, Brook has 11 first-class half-centuries to his name already and the international community is beginning to sit up and take notice.

Still only 22, he has been picked up for a stint in Australia's Big Bash and will hope to continue his fine jack-of-all-trades form this summer.

6. Ben Stokes (Durham)

Ben Stokes England Ashes Jan22

Age on August 1, 2023: 32

First-class batting average: 34.91

First class bowling average: 32.34

After Root, the other cast-iron certainty in this XI has to be Stokes.

Recent events notwithstanding, Headingley is scheduled to host an Ashes Test in 2023, which will mark the return of the Australians to Leeds for the first time since Stokes' stunning heroics kept the 2019 series alive.

That performance may be one of the all-rounder's most memorable but there are countless others thanks to his ability to alter the momentum of a game through sheer force of will.

Given he is still only in his early thirties, the only thing that would keep him out of the next Ashes battle is any sort of injury - something not out of the question given his recent setbacks.

7. Ben Foakes (wk) (Surrey)

Ben Foakes Apr21

Age on August 1, 2023: 30

First-class batting average: 38.30

First-class catches: 249

Perennially unlucky Foakes was as close as he has ever been to keeping wicket for England in a home Test in May, only to slip on the floor of the Oval dressing room and be ruled out for three months.

Since then, he has not added to his eight Test caps, despite no one being able to nail down the wicketkeeping position.

Current occupant Jos Buttler will turn 33 during the next Ashes series and is yet to convince he can thrive in the long format despite having close to 60 Tests under his belt.

Therefore the baton should pass to Foakes, widely regarded as the best keeper in the county game and one who already has a Test century to his name.

8. Ollie Robinson (Sussex)

Ollie Robinson England Ashes Jan22

Age on August 1, 2023: 29

First-class bowling average: 21.18

After making his Test bow in the first match of the summer against New Zealand, Robinson went on to establish himself firmly in the national set-up.

He picked up two five-wicket hauls and while he isn't the fastest around, he does possess the ability to extract bounce where others cannot.

It may surprise many to learn that he has a first-class century to his name. And while that batting talent has not translated to international level, he is a danger with the new ball in his hand.

9. Jofra Archer (Sussex)

Jofra Archer Sussex may21

Age on August 1, 2023: 28

First-class bowling average: 24.91

Such was the esteem in which England held Archer, his rapid rise in 2019 coincided with the ECB changing their registration regulations to allow the Barbados-born speedster to qualify for the Three Lions sooner than might have been previously expected.

He then took part in an enthralling battle of the highest quality with Steve Smith in the 2019 Ashes just a month after bowling England to World Cup glory.

He has since struggled with injury. However, when fit, his sheer pace, delivered with an unexpectedly languid action, make him a must-pick.

10. Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire)

Saqib Mahmood England Aug21

Age on August 1, 2023: 26

First-class bowling average: 27.92

It's certainly strange to write out an England Test line-up that voluntarily excludes Jimmy Anderson. But, as much as anyone might not like to think about it, the greatest seam bowler of all time can't do it forever. He will be 41 by the time the 2023 Ashes series rolls around, so alternatives have to be considered.

Step forward, fellow Lancastrian, Saqib Mahmood. While he isn't a like-for-like replacement in terms of swing bowling, he does possess an extra yard of pace that Anderson does not have. He also has a devastating yorker in his armoury, which has led to comparisons with Waqar Younis. I like what I've seen of him.

11. Matt Parkinson (Lancashire)

Matt Parkinson England Jul21

Age on August 1, 2023: 26

First-class bowling average: 23.35

England were so confident in their two spin options in last summer's series against New Zealand that they picked precisely neither, instead plumping for skipper Joe Root's part-time off-breaks, which yielded one wicket at an average of 99.00 across the series.

With that in mind, leg-spinner Parkinson's lack of a Test cap is one of the game's great injustices.

A dependable leg-spinner is worth his weight in gold, and with Parkinson already having ODI and T20I experience, England clearly see him as good enough to make the step up. He should certainly be given a chance as soon as possible, with a view to having him fully established for the next Ashes series.

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