JASON ROY is the player to open for England in the Ashes for me and I am not worried about him at all.
I know Steve Harmison mentioned in a recent debate we had on the radio that he was not sure about him against the real elite quicks but he has been opening the batting in some of the biggest competitions in the world for the past five years.
Look at Australia, they have picked a ‘dasher’ over the years and he adapts to the situation. They have done it for years and years. David Warner has done it and there was Michael Slater all those years before him.
Then you look at the likes of Sanath Jayasuriya for Sri Lanka. For a fast bowler, it is intimidating when a batsman comes at you early on and hurts you on a flat pitch and hits you for fours.
Bowlers like to blow maidens. Jimmy Anderson would much prefer to bowl to a Mike Atherton than a Roy purely because Atherton would just let balls go early on and give him loads of maidens. Roy would be looking to attack.
Yes, you will have a chance of getting Roy out with the new ball. But you also have the chance of going for runs. No fast bowlers likes going for runs.
I think both batting line-ups are vulnerable at Test cricket level and susceptible to collapses.Darren Gough
For me, I think it will be an Ashes series decided by the bowlers.
I think both batting line-ups are vulnerable at Test cricket level and susceptible to collapses.
With the quality of bowling on show for both sides and the new ball that England have picked which does a little bit more, the series will be dominated by the ball.
Whoever bowls best will win the series. The Aussies have got Josh Hazelwood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and possibly James Pattinson or Jackson Bird as the quicks and then Nathan Lyon as the spinner.
Although Moeen Ali has a terrific record, Lyon is recognised as the best Test spinner in the world.
For me, Tim Paine is an interesting one as captain of Australia. I look at Alex Carey and Matthew Wade and think they are two better cricketers. But they seem to be sticking with Paine.
Looking at the sides, Joe Root and Steve Smith cancel each other out as batters as they are very much in line. David Warner is the by far the best Test opener of the sides, unless Roy comes to the party and impresses.
Rory Burns will be on a par to whoever else opens for the Aussies, whether it is Marcus Harris or Joe Burns.
Looking at Jos Buttler, he is a better player than Travis Head, but Head got a good recent hundred against England Lions.
At seven, Jonny Bairstow tips Paine for me, but in terms of the bowling attacks, I cannot really separate them.
Hazlewood is a ‘steady-Eddie’ and will do a similar job to Anderson, while Starc is their strike bowler and probably matches up to Jofra Archer. Cummins and Stuart Broad can be put together to see how they perform.
It looks very even on paper. England have won the last four Ashes series at home, so they have got to be favourites and they will be expected by the nation to win.
What a start it would be to life as director of cricket for Ashley Giles if we win the Ashes and a World Cup – although he did not have much say in it as Andrew Strauss did most of the work. But it would not be a bad start for Giles.
For England, there are some concerns over the fitness of Mark Wood and Archer, but I think Archer will be okay for the first Test and think it will be Anderson, Broad and Archer as the main three strike bowlers.
I also like Sam Curran, who will be a danger in English conditions and fills a gap. When it gets flat when we go abroad, that is when we may have to look at a different option. Maybe a Wood or an Olly Stone.
For Broad, it will be a big couple of Tests early on. For me, I have said it many times, he does not get the credit he deserves, purely because he has been at the side of Anderson.
He has been a terrific bowler for England and still is a very big threat against left-headers around the wicket and Australia are going to have a few of those.
If Broad is on form, I think he is a good pick as he will have to bowl at people like Warner, Head and probably Shaun Marsh if he is going to be fit.
Obviously, Ben Stokes heads into the Ashes on a high as the World Cup hero and you go back just two years ago when he had 19 to defend in the T20 final against the West Indies and Carlos Brathwaite hit him for four sixes.
He was left on his knees but what has happened in the last few years has just changed the way he has been remembered. He has well and truly got rid of the Brathwaite tag.