For an Ashes squad to be victorious in Australia, the group should feature plenty of lefties, limit the number of specialist bowlers and stay well clear of Surrey players, according to new research analysing the make-up of what makes a winning Ashes squad.
The research from Bookie-Bonus-Code.co.uk looked at the past 10 England touring parties to visit Australia, dating back to 1978, and found that history is not on the side of this year’s crop and curiously, they could be too experienced.
The findings reveal that a typical victorious Ashes squad looks as follows:
- Players have an average of 26 caps before the series commences
- Four Middlesex, two Leicestershire and two Nottinghamshire players
- 11% of bowlers and 27% of batsman are left-handed (both higher than in losing sides)
- Just 38% of the squad are specialist bowlers
- Medium-pace is the most popular bowling style
By contrast, a squad that falls short looks like:
- Players have an average of 29 test caps
- Two players respectively from Surrey, Lancashire and Yorkshire county sides
- 91% of bowlers and 79% of batsman are right-handed
- 41% of the squad are specialist bowlers
- Fast bowling is the most popular bowling style, with 32% of bowlers preferring spin (compared to 29% in winning squads)
This does not bode well for Joe Root’s 2017-18 touring party as they fall short in several categories. There is not a single left-handed bowler among the 16-man squad and with an average of 37 test matches under each player’s belt, the squad could be considered to lack the raw talent and youth required to surprise the Aussies down under.
This year’s old guard is propped up by Alistair Cook who, with 147 caps, is the most-capped England player ever, closely follow by James Anderson, who is third on the list.
Another potential cause for concern is the fact that six players play their county cricket for either Surrey or Yorkshire, two of the three sides identified as the unluckiest for an Ashes squad.
43% of the bowlers are spinners, which is a far greater proportion than the average amount in a typical winning squad (29%).
The only positives from the findings are that this year’s group has a sizeable left-handed representation with the bat (44%) and just a quarter of players are considered out-and-out bowlers.
In fact, with seven left-handed batsmen, the amount is equal to the last victory in Australia (2010-11) and only the 2013/14 crop had a higher proportion across the last 10 series (eight players).
Perhaps the only factor that has no variation when comparing the outcome of the series is the age of the players. The average age is 28 for both successful and unsuccessful touring parties, with the oldest squad being the victorious 1978-79 team, which had an average age of 29 years and five months.
However, the youngest England side (averaging 26 years and two months) is the squad which suffered the 5-0 defeat of 2006-07 – the first whitewash in an Ashes series since 1920-21.
A spokesperson for Bookie-Bonus-Code.co.uk commented, “Our analysis shows a big difference between squads that experience Ashes success and those who come home empty handed. It looks as though the Aussies do not like facing lefties, so the Barmy Army and the rest of the England supporters will be hoping that the left-handed batsman can do the business this year.
“As the most ‘unlucky’ county side, it is concerning to see that there are three Surrey players in the squad – Curran, Foakes and Stoneman – but our findings also reveal that fewer caps is better, so perhaps their combined three test appearances between them will be a positive.
“It could be that this England team are too experienced to bring home the urn.”