Australia axe two key World Cup cogs for latest Ashes raid

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Celebratory drinks would have barely finished flowing for Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner when the most sobering of news landed.

Having played integral parts in Australia’s capture of the World Cup on home soil – Faulkner was even man of the match in the final – the pair were overlooked in the selection of the Ashes touring party due to land on these shores in June.

Both men were, in a way, victims of their own success, as a heavily weighted limited-overs schedule prevented them playing much first-class cricket.

Those unfortunate enough to be left on the World Cup sidelines have been able to bank some impressive figures in the domestic Shield cricket, pushing their case for Test inclusion.

The three biggest successes in that regard are batsman Adam Voges, Pakistan-born legspinner Fawad Ahmed and backup wicketkeeper Peter Nevill.

Of the trio it is the former who has the best chance of featuring in the first Test in Cardiff. A record-breaking haul of 1358 runs during the domestic season made Voges, who has English experience thanks to stints with three counties, an easy selection.

He could well slot in to the number six position also targeted by the Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitchell, although Shane Watson’s grip on the number three slot looks increasingly slippery at Test level.

With the ball, five seamers will look to exploit the famously helpful conditions English grounds provide, with Mitchell Johnson now joined by fellow left armer and forename sharer Starc as a fearsome operator.

Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle are familiar foes, while Josh Hazelwood is one of a raft of young pretenders waiting to take the reins from those senior statesmen.

Having blitzed what has become a now decimated English side in the 5-0 whitewash last winter, Australia will be hugely confident of inflicting more pain on Alastair Cook this summer. Ladbrokes make them 8/13 favourites to win the series.

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.