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Ashes 2021/22: who will England’s Joe Root pick for second Test match against Australia?

England are two days away from the next instalment of the Ashes 2021/22 series against Australia

England’s first Ashes Test ended in a catastrophic nine wicket defeat after which England were denied their match fee as well as having five points deducted in the World Test Championship due to slow over rates.

After a humiliating exhibition in Brisbane, the tourists have travelled to Adelaide where they will play their first day/night test.

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There had been much sadness among England fans when it was announced that James Anderson would be left out of the squad but there was even more confusion and disbelief when it was then confirmed that Stuart Broad would also be left out of the playing 11.

For the first time in 15 years of English Test history, neither Broad or Anderson would feature in a match.

Joe Root and Chris Silverwood took an exceptionally bold decision in leaving out their two veteran bowlers with over 1,100 wickets between them, and, after the results of the test, it seems almost an inevitability that they will bring back their two most successful pacemen.

So, with just two days to go, who will Silverwood and Root select to face Pat Cummins and his squad? Root has himself admitted that he will face some “tricky decisions” over the selection for Adelaide and there will be many eagle eyes wondering what he will choose when it comes to spin and pace.

Can England pick from their Lions Squad?

The England management have made yet another rather controversial decision as they are sending their Lions Squad home.

Gloucestershire’s James Bracey made 113 in the fourth innings while Ben Foakes and Lancashire’s Josh Bohannon both contributed half centuries. Liam Norwell, Warwickshire, also took five for 58 but none of them have been kept on to shadow the England Ashes tour.

Bracey, right, made a second innings century against Australia A

Bracey has had mixed success in an England shirt but would have been a fine choice to help England’s batting line-up out, especially after his phenomenal score against the Australia A side.

There will be four Lions members who will remain on Australian soil, three of which are all part of the Big Bash League currently being played: Tom Abel (Brisbane Heat), Harry Brook (Hobart Hurricanes) and Saqib Mahmood (Sydney Thunder). Dom Bess will be the fourth man to stay out and will likely join the Ashes tour.

Opening Batsmen

While neither Rory Burns nor Haseeb Hameed had a particularly notable Test match, England do not have many other options that would help them out in their next match.

Zak Crawley would be the most obvious choice for openers, but he has a 2021 batting average of 11.14. Compared to his 52.72 average from 2020, Crawley has seen a dramatic drop in his form and is unlikely to fare much better on soil on which he has never played.

Middle-order Batsmen

Dawid Malan will have secured his place in the next Test after his 82 in the second innings while Joe Root will continue to come in at number four.

England’s next debate will be whether to continue with Ollie Pope or bring Jonny Bairstow back into the squad.

Malan made 82 in the second innings against Australia

It is likely that Root will pin England’s failure in Brisbane down to lack of significant match preparation time rather than a complete lack of skill and will therefore be inclined to keep Pope in over Bairstow.

Root will also use the lack of game time to explain Ben Stokes form in the recent test. Stokes returned to the squad for the first time in nearly four months and scored a total of 19 runs but it cannot be long until he returns to his normal form and Root will hope that it is sooner rather than later.

Wicket-keeper

Jos Buttler will have earned his place in the second Test, and with Ben Foakes set to return back to England, Buttler will only have to worry if Bairstow is to come into the squad.

Buttler was England’s top scorer in the first innings and contributed 23 in the second. Foakes has reportedly been known as a much safer pair of hands than other English wicket-keepers but has seen less success with the bat.

It is unlikely that Root or Silverwood will stray away from the Lancashire keeper for the remainder of the series unless he sustains an injury.

Bowlers

This is where Root will face his biggest predicament. Jack Leach was the specialist spinner against Australia in Brisbane but was smashed for 102 runs off his 13 overs and took just one wicket.

While it would not be inconceivable for England to pick all seam, a spin option would be preferred if it was guaranteed to make a valuable contribution.

Root will have to choose from Leach or Bess if he is to keep a spinner in the side, or will opt for four seamers and use himself as the spinner - a fairly precarious move.

Based purely on the last Test’s results, it is Chris Woakes and Mark Wood who will be looking the most in danger.

Stuart Broad and James Anderson will surely make their return to the side. Anderson is the second highest non-Australian wicket-taker in Adelaide and has an average at the ground of 29.50. England fans will be desperate to watch Broad reunited with David Warner following his seven dismissals of the Australian opening batsman in the 2019 series.

Predicted Squad: Root (c) , Burns, Hameed, Malan, Stokes, Pope, Buttler, Bess, Robinson, Broad, Anderson

Australia will host England at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday 16 December 2021 and play will start at 4am GMT.

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