Amazingly, since it won the Ashes series 3-0, questions around the England squad to tour Australia shortly, are many and varied.

You might think that three successive triumphs, the last one by a clear margin against one of the weakest Australian sides of all time, would leave the selectors ready to put ticks besides 16 names without hesitation. Not a bit of it.

There is a strong debate about the future of Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Jonny Bairstow, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior; even though they all played a major part in the Ashes triumph. Root and Trott finished the season with a string of small scores, Bairstow lost his place, no-one ever knows what Pietersen will do next and Prior could be replaced after poor wicket-keeping.

At least one of the selectors is not worried. “The first 12 can be written down now,” says Ashley Giles, also the one-day coach.


There are plenty of replacements. Nick Compton is the favourite to return for Root, Ian Bell to go in at No.3 instead of Trott, Eoin Morgan to edge out KP, Jos Buttler to move behind the stumps; and as for the seam bowlers there are plenty to take over from Tim Bresnan if he does not recover from injury.

Boyd Rankin, an England player after learning his trade with Ireland, Graham Onions of the likely champion Durham, Ben Stokes, a young Durham all-rounder, the still unproven Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett, a giant last time in Oz, Chris Woakes, in my opinion the best of the up-and-coming bowlers, Chris Jordan and Jade Dernbach.

Is that strength or weakness? They all had a chance to shine in the one-day side when, in the fifth match, none of the Test winners — James Anderson, Stuart Broad, or Graeme Swann — played. The selectors’ wish to see how the young ‘uns performed cost England the one-day series 2-1.

There are three men I believe will make a rich haul of runs in Oz: the captain Alastair Cook, Bell and Ravi Bopara, still waiting to confirm his quality.

Flower issue

There are other problems around the England camp. The rumour persists that Andy Flower will quit as coach after this series and it may not be just because he wants to spend time with the family. He has dragged England close to the top of the world rankings but five years is enough for any coach.

Has he already been offered a chance to move? We will not know until next January but don’t be surprised to hear he is off home to South Africa where he can be a good parent and an even better coach.

Who takes his place with England? Perhaps one of two old rivals — Michael Vaughan or Shane Warne, recently separated from his glamorous film star girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley. He is said to be “devastated” and he probably needs a job to distract him from his misery.

Warne, one of those often called the best captain Australia never had, is shrewd enough to step into the Flower shoes. Don’t discount it, even though it will send shock waves through the game.

The England and Wales Cricket Board may tempt Flower with an offer of the managing director’s job which Hugh Morris has quit recently to go back to his county Glamorgan as chief executive but I hear that is also being lined up for Andrew Strauss, the former captain. Strauss is now filling in his time before the general election in 2015 when he may be a Parliamentary candidate.

It could easily be all change for England as it defends the Ashes once again.