England Ashes squad: Player-by-player guide to the touring party

England have named an 18-man squad for the five-match series beginning in Brisbane in December, with every Test exclusively live on BT Sport.

By Tim Williams Published: 8 November 2021 - 10.58pm

England's Ashes squad has been named for this winter's series in Australia.

The five-match series will be shown exclusively live on BT Sport, beginning at the Gabba in Brisbane on Wednesday 8 December.

With just hours to go until one of the greatest sporting rivalries resumes, here's our guide to England's touring party.

Full England Ashes Squad: Joe Root, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

Joe Root

Joe Root Getty
Root will be targeting a maiden Ashes hundred in Australia after a stellar year with the bat

England's fulcrum, beating heart and great white hope.

After a lean period, the England captain returned to his sumptuous best in 2021, averaging 66 with six centuries. He oozed class in most innings but had to shoulder the run-scoring burden in an otherwise frail batting line-up too often.

He is yet to score an away Ashes hundred, or captain England to a series win over Australia, and latent doubts over his leadership will resurface if things start to unravel.

Will have to improve his average of 38 in Australia in what could be a defining tour for his legacy as an England player and captain.

James Anderson

James Anderson Getty
Anderson has taken 104 Test wickets against Australia but is unlikely to play all five games this winter

Ageless Anderson wasn't always a shoo-in to feature in what will be his ninth Ashes series. In fact, when he left Australia in 2017 he claimed it would be his last in the country.

Since that disastrous tour when he took 17 wickets at a touch under 28 he has become the third-highest wicket-taker in Test match history and this summer picked up his 1,000th first-class scalp.

But even the very best can't defy Father Time and England will hope this tour is not one too many for the 39-year-old. 

Jonny Bairstow

Jonny Bairstow Getty
Bairstow averaged 34 in Australia four years ago with one century

One of six survivors from the last Ashes tour, Bairstow will feature as a specialist batsman this time around with Jos Buttler set to keep wicket.

He was involved in the infamous headbutt incident with Cameron Bancroft in a pub in Perth in 2017, but showcased his ability with the bat with a glorious maiden Ashes ton at the WACA.

He looked in decent nick in the summer but consistently failed to capitalise on promising starts, making fifty once in eight innings against India.

Dom Bess

Dom Bess Getty
Spinner Bess is unlikely to play ahead of former Somerset team-mate Leach

Australia is an unforgiving place to bowl finger spin and there shouldn't be any doubt that the hosts will look to take on the happy-go-lucky 24-year-old if he plays.

Few would have tipped him to even make the trip after he was horribly exposed in India, but he has benefitted from a move away from Somerset where he was playing second fiddle to Jack Leach.

Some budding England spinners have never recovered from chastening tours and Bess will be all too aware of the task at hand.

Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad Getty
Broad will be looking to add to his 34 Test match wickets in Australia

The first Test in Brisbane will be Broad's 150th and he will be an important part of Root's fast bowling arsenal with Jofra Archer and Olly Stone absent.

He has generally been excellent on home soil (see his utter dominance of David Warner in 2019) but less effective in Australia.

The 35-year-old says he's "fit and firing" after recovering from a calf injury that ruled him out of most of the summer and he'll want to improve on his 11 wickets at over 47 four years ago, in what will be another hostile tour for the veteran.

Rory Burns

Rory Burns Getty
Burns scored his maiden Test century against Australia at Edgbaston in 2019

The opener averaged more than any other Englishman - apart from the heroic Ben Stokes - in the last Ashes series and is now a bona fide senior pro after 29 Tests.

An unorthodox technique hasn't been tested in Australian conditions yet but his maiden hundred against an unstinting Aussie attack at Edgbaston two years ago suggests he could be up to the task.

He made two fifties and two ducks in the summer against India and has a pivotal role to play at the top of the order.

Jos Buttler

Jos Buttler Getty
Vice-captain Buttler will keep wicket in the first Test at the Gabba

Appeared most reluctant to board the plane but has been appeased by the concessions granted by the powers that be and will take the gloves in Brisbane.

He averages less in Test matches than in ODIs and T20s and had a very poor summer with the bat against India, averaging under 15 in five innings.

He was dropped in 2016 and missed the last tour to Australia before failing to make an impact in the 2019 series.

Root clearly rates him as a vice-captain, but he'll admire him even more if he can finally replicate his ODI form in the Test arena.

Zak Crawley

Zak Crawley Getty
Crawley has been tipped to rediscover his best form with the bat in Australia

Rewind to August 2020 and England's search for an opener looked to be over.

At just 22, Crawley scored a superlative 267 against a talented Pakistan attack with the ease and elegance that suggested the Kent man could be in for the long haul.

He hasn't scored a Test century since and was sent back to his county during the India series to work on his game.

Chris Silverwood insisted he still had a big future, and he was rewarded with a central contract in September. Has the game to make runs in Australia.

Haseeb Hameed

Haseeb Hameed Getty
Hameed averages just under 40 for England but hasn't faced Australia

Hameed returned to the England set-up after impressing for Nottinghamshire in the County Championship and is likely to open with Rory Burns at the Gabba.

He made his Test debut in India at 19, averaging 44 in three matches in 2016 but lost his technique, England place and Lancashire contract in the intervening years.

The 24-year-old made a pair of 60s against the Indians in the summer. Dubbed 'Baby Boycott' when he first entered the England fold, some think his strike rate is too ponderous for Australia. 

Dan Lawrence

Dan Lawrence Getty
Lawrence has fond memories of batting in Australia with the England Lions

It has been a stop-start year for Lawrence since his Test bow in Galle in January.

He settled in well, scoring a half-century against Sri Lanka and an impressive 96 in Ahmedabad but was dropped after making only 25 against India in Nottingham in August.

He describes his average of 27.23 as "very frustrating" but does have experience of run-scoring Down Under after a successful England Lions tour two winters ago. 

He amassed 493 runs at an average of 98.60 in six innings with two centuries and could thrive in hostile touring conditions.

Jack Leach

Jack Leach Getty
Leach could benefit from Ben Stokes’ return to the England squad

Best known for his supporting role during Ben Stokes' heroics at Headingley in 2019, Leach will be looking to make some more happy Ashes memories this winter.

He was overlooked in the summer but his chances of featuring in Australia have been boosted by the return of Stokes, which may deter Root and Silverwood from opting with an all-seam attack.

The Somerset man has taken 62 Test wickets at under 30 and will be desperate to make up for lost time as England's frontline spinner following the retirement of Moeen Ali.

Dawid Malan

Dawid Malan Getty
Malan struck a sublime Ashes century in Perth in 2017

Central to England's T20 set-up, Malan was in the Test wilderness 12 months ago.

He admitted to feeling very raw after his post-Ashes axing in 2018, but now has a chance to cement his place in the top order.

The Yorkshire batsman, who moved from Middlesex two years ago, was England's leading run-scorer four years ago in Australia with 383, 194 of which came at Perth where he struck a brilliant maiden Ashes century.

The answer to England's number 3 question could have been hiding in plain sight all along.

Craig Overton

Craig Overton Getty
Overton played twice in Australia four years ago, picking up six wickets

Has the craft and persistence to make an impression but is likely to play a bit-part at best.

A natural target for critics who point to England's homogenous bowling attack and dearth of express pace, the Somerset seamer has lost all three Ashes Tests he has played in.

He picked up six wickets in two matches in 2017/18 and bowled with admirable discipline for the Lions in Australia two years later.

The 27-year-old picked up some notable scalps against India in the summer and is competent and belligerent with bat in hand.

Ollie Pope

Ollie Pope Getty
Pope played Australian grade cricket before he broke into the England side

Has faltered since he burst onto the scene in South Africa two winters ago but has shown immense promise in the formative stages of his Test career, nonetheless.

Averaged 78.21 with three centuries in the 2021 County Championship, including a career-best 274 against Glamorgan but averages a more modest 32.16 for England after 20 games.

His classical technique looks suited to Australian conditions. Will be under pressure to deliver on his precocious talent in the blood-and-thunder of an Ashes campaign.

Ollie Robinson

Ollie Robinson Getty
Robinson has been a revelation but is yet to play a Test outside England

Looks primed for a big role after a memorable summer.

The Sussex seamer was cleared to play after historic offensive Tweets surfaced during his Test debut and soon made himself undroppable.

Has taken 28 wickets at under 20 in five matches and consistently rose to the occasion against India. "A real find" was how Virat Kohli characterised the 27-year-old's rise.

Has demonstrated exceptional control of his line and length and has the game to torment Australia if he can deliver with the Kookaburra.

Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes Getty
Stokes led England to victory over Australia in extraordinary fashion at Headingley in 2019

In an instant England's Ashes hopes were boosted and the complexion of the series shifted irreparably.

Stokes announced that his indefinite break from the game was over and that he's ready to take on Australia.

He stepped back to prioritise his mental wellbeing and give his broken finger time to recover and hasn't played competitive cricket in months.

His return changes everything. England immediately look far more balanced with their genuine all-rounder back in the fold.

The Australians won't quickly forget one of the game's most iconic innings in Leeds in 2019 nor his redoubtable 120 in Perth in 2013.

Chris Woakes

Chris Woakes Getty
Woakes has a poor bowling average in Australia compared to England

After an infuriating spell of inactivity, Woakes quickly got back into the groove against India in the summer. He needed only six deliveries to put his frustrations behind him and pick up his first wicket and went on to take seven and make a fifty on his return to Test duty.

Never lets his country down but has a poor record against Australia, averaging over 43 in nine matches and even more Down Under.

Underrated with the bat, he would have filled the Stokes shape void but should still be influential in the forthcoming series.

Mark Wood

Mark Wood Getty
Wood is the only express pace bowler at Root’s disposal

England's only bowler capable of consistently eclipsing 90mph in Jofra Archer, Olly Stone and Saqib Mahmood's absence.

Picked up 11 wickets in three Tests in the summer, including a rip-roaring spell where he removed India's top three in quick succession at Lords.

Has taken 10 wickets in four matches against Australia but hasn't played an away Ashes series yet.

England have been craving express pace and Wood could be a real standout if he stays fit in what is always a gruelling tour for fast bowlers.