England’s squad for their upcoming Ashes contests with Australia has been announced with Alastair Cook’s side evens to win a fourth series in a row for the first time since 1890.
The 17-man unit features six players who did not feature in the side during England’s recent 3-0 victory on home soil.
Yorkshire’s in-form batsman Gary Ballance, Warwickshire pace bowler Boyd Rankin and the promising Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes are yet to be capped at Test level as they prepare for their first taste of Ashes action.
They’re joined by Michael Carberry, Monty Panesar and Chris Tremlett for the winter tour and it’s the new additions who are prompting the most discussion.
In particular, former Ireland player Rankin’s selection has pundits locked in furious debate following the decision to pick him at the expense of the more experienced Graham Onions.
However, his inclusion has also captured the imagination of onlookers who believe his assets could prove to be vital down under.
His height and the potential for causing mayhem on pitches where the ball could bounce have helped to secure his place and the chance to prove he belongs at such an elite level.
And having successfully emerged from the England Performance Programme Squad the Ulsterman has gone on to show his worth in the recent one-day internationals against the Baggy Greens.
Taking five wickets in three games, Rankin’s pace and vigour were self-evident.
There are onlookers who feel 2009 Ashes bowler Onions was unlucky to miss out given his 66 wickets at an average of 17.68 during Durham’s County Championship winning campaign.
But at 10/1 there is plenty of value to be had in backing Rankin to be England’s top wicket taker in Australia.
The hosts are 6/4 to win the series and wrestle the urn back from England with home advantage an undoubted source of confidence for Michael Clarke’s men.
Their arch-rivals have selected a squad based on current form and future potential though.
And Boyd Rankin is just one of the newer members who could inflict more misery upon long-suffering opponents.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing
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