The Ashes: A look at the Australia squad as they aim to regain the famous urn

Wicketkeeper Tim Paine is a surprise inclusion for one of the most famous rivalries in sport.

The Ashes: A look at the Australia squad as they aim to regain the famous urn
Steve Smith (left) has a blend of experience and more unfamiliar names (photo: Getty Images)

With the scores tied at 32-32 in 69 Ashes series' since it's inception in 1882, the 2017-18 edition is set to be a thrilling contest Down Under.

England are the current holders of the famous urn but Australia fancy their chances on home soil and this is the team set to take on the task.

Smith, Warner and Khawaja will be targets for the tourists

The number one ranked Test batsman on the planet, Steve Smith, is set to lead Australia into battle. With over 5,000 runs to his name, Smith has a Test batting average of 59.67. He also offers a part-time bowling option with his leg spin.

David Warner is also a regular feature of the higher end of batting rankings, currently sitting in the top five for both Tests and ODI's. The 31-year old has a wealth of experience, boasting an average of just under 50 runs in his 66 Test matches. Expect the left-hander to be vocal in the field when England take to the crease.

Usman Khawaja became the first Muslim to represent Australia when he made his debut in the final Ashes Test of the 2011 series. Since then, the Pakistan-born number three has posted a healthy average of 45.47 in 24 Tests but is at his best on home soil. Enjoying playing shots off the back foot, Khawaja averages 64 on familiar territory.

Likely to play at number six, Shaun Marsh is the third left-handed batsman in the Australia squad and will not have many more Ashes series to come at the age of 34. He is not as prolific as the likes of Smith, Warner and Khawaja but has made four Test centuries with a high score of 182. Remarkably, this is the middle-order batsman's eight recall to the Australia side.

Opener Cameron Bancroft becomes Warner's eighth partner at the top of the innings after a solid end to the summer. He was just 22 runs short of scoring 300 for Gloucestershire against Kent before scoring 442 runs in six matches after returning back to Australia.

In contrast, number five Peter Handscomb has not been as impressive this summer but has a strong Test record since his debut last summer. An average of 53.07 in ten matches shows his class and there will be added bite for Handscomb who has British parents.

Bancroft and Handscomb are both natural wicketkeepers but Tim Paine could don the gloves for the opening Test after his surprise inclusion. The 32-year old returns after seven years out of the Test squad and eleven years since a century in any format.

 

 

 

 

Three bowlers ranked in the top 12 of Test rankings seek to pressurise a shaky England batting unit

The fiery Mitchell Starc leads a fast bowling attack that warranted batsmen outside the squad to be called into the Australian training camp to prevent any injuries. He is just two wickets short of 150 in Tests and averages 28.36.

Pat Cummins will also be a daunting prospect and has picked up 21 Test wickets in just five matches. He has never played a five-day contest on Australian soil but has an average of 25.38 and will cause a shaky England batting line-up some problems throughout the series.

Josh Hazlewood does not boast the same pace but is still just as dangerous. He is in the top six of both Test and ODI bowling rankings and has an average just shy of Cummins with 118 wickets in 31 matches.

Sitting seventh in the Test rankings, just one place behind Hazlewood, is the solitary spin option of Nathan Lyon. The 30-year old averages a five-wicket haul once every five matches and has 269 wickets to his name.

Jackson Bird provides another pace option and is another Australian bowler with an average under 30. He has only played 8 Tests but still has 34 wickets.

Chadd Sayers is likely to sit out the first Test with Bird but joins the squad after an impressive summer as he seeks his debut at the Ashes. The medium-pace bowler could be an option under the lights in the second Test.