Ashes XIs: Finally an England side Pietersen can be picked in

To celebrate the renewal of the greatest rivalry in cricket, Ladbrokes have decided to stoke the fire between England and Australia by naming an Ashes XI for each side, before merging the two in a combined side.

To kick things off, here’s the 11 men deemed worthy enough to fill a modern-day England XI. Perhaps this lot would be rated a bit better than the 3/1 Alastair Cook’s mob are to win the little Urn this summer:

1. Graham Gooch*
The most modern opening batsman of a group of five to score over 2000 Ashes runs in the position, Gooch scored 13 fifties and three 100s against the old enemy, including a top score of 196 at the Oval.

2. Alastair Cook
One of only two men to score an Ashes double ton as an opener, and the last to do it following his heroic 235* in the first Test of the 2010/11 tour.

3. Graham Thorpe
Made over 1000 Ashes runs despite only playing 16 times against the Aussies and holds the best “modern-day” average of any Englishman to score that many, at 45.74

4. Kevin Pietersen
The controversial batsman’s Ashes average comes in just a smidgen below Thorpe’s at 44.95 and he holds four centuries among his 2158 runs. Will forever be remembered for his Oval innings that clinched the 2005 series.

5. David Gower
The face of Sky’s Ashes coverage is the host for good reason. Gower is the second-leading English runscorer against Australia of all time, with 3269 runs and nine tons.

6. Ian Bell
Enjoyed a purple patch in the 2013 series at home, in which he scored 562 runs and averaged 62.44. Three of his four centuries came in that coming-of-age Ashes and his 19 scores of 50 or more put him equal-seventh on the all time list.

England_Ashes_XI (1)

7. Alec Stewart +
Although he doesn’t have a century to his name, Stewart is the second-highest Ashes runscorer amongst wicketkeepers and has the third most dismissals.

8. Ian Botham
One of only two men to ever score over 1000 runs and 100 wickets against the Australians. The leading English wicket taker in the Ashes and singlehandedly won matches for his side during the 80s.

9. Graeme Swann
The most successful modern-day Ashes spinner for England, with 62 wickets at 39.98 runs apiece, three five-wicket hauls and a three-time series winner.

10. Darren Gough
His strike rate of 52.8 is the best of the modern-day among all bowlers to take at least 50 Ashes wickets. Ended his career with 74 Australian scalps and never took less than 16 wickets in his four series.

11. James Anderson
England’s all-time leading wicket taker only has 77 against Australia, but that’s the best mark of anyone to have played in his era, unsurprisingly.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.