With the series all done and dusted, the final Test of the Ashes threatens to be a bit of a damp squib. England haven’t needed to be at their best to retain the famous urn and can now enjoy this week’s clash at the Oval knowing they have soundly beaten Australia. However, the cracks in this squad which was once crowned best in the world are starting to show and as such the time for looking towards the next generation is now.
The England and Wales Cricket Board certainly seem to think this is the case, why else would they turn to James Taylor as a potential replacement for Kevin Pietersen when he was a doubt for the third Test? The selectors are now looking towards the next generation of bowlers, with the uncapped duo of Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan having been called into the squad for the last Test.
Woakes has been around the England set-up for a few years now, playing in 13 one-day internationals and two Twenty20 games. However, he is yet to get a run out for the Test side, despite having taken 284 first-class wickets at an average of 25.48. He may yet have to wait a little longer for his maiden Test match given the options England have at their disposal in the bowling department.
Even with Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions sidelined for the final Test, England still have James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann available. Given their liking for just four bowlers, and with Chris Tremlett finally fit, the latest cricket odds suggest Woakes may have to be patient for a little while longer.
Kerrigan could also have to play the waiting game, despite 47 first class wickets at an average of 20.23 for his county side Lancashire this season. The 24-year-old is statically speaking the best spinner in England at this time, but that won’t count for much if it comes down to a choice between him and Swann.
While neither is likely to play, the decision to include the two new faces in the squad for the final Test is still a smart one. If Kerrigan and Woakes are the future of England’s attack they need to be eased onto the international scene. They’ll gain plenty from training with the first XI ahead of the fifth Test but the chance to defeat the Aussies 4-0 in an Ashes series means no one is likely to give up their place to blood these youngsters just yet.