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Two England Cricket Teams – Another Ashes Tour beckons

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The most significant detail in the publication of the England squad to tour Australia in January is the presence of a second squad, England A.

This is the first time this arrangement has been attempted. The A squad will provide the wider base elite English cricket needs, and the twin targets of an Ashes tour and a World Cup (in March in New Zealand) make their involvement all the more vital.

While most of the A squad were names to be expected, one or two selections are of note. Ellie Threlkeld is chosen as the keeper next in line behind Amy Jones. Congratulations to her. The competition was hot, but her quality behind the stumps is matched by her promise in front of them.

Beth Langston has fought her way back into contention after a few seasons out of fashion. Rather like Tash Farrant, she is proof that resilience and hard work can reap their reward. Her batting has proved a useful addition to Diamonds’ tool-kit alongside her seam bowling.

The full England squad consists of 17 players, which gave Lisa Keightley the chance to choose ‘both…and’ rather than ‘either…or’. She has to cover all bases, from a 4-day marathon to 20-over sprints.

So Mady Villiers can take her place alongside Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn and Charlie Dean in the spin department. Freya Davies is given another chance to prove her worth alongside Kate Cross and Farrant as back-up to the perennials, Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole.

The tour schedule is in line with recent trends, the two England sides facing off against each other in two games (one 3-day, one 2-day), before the big event, the test match, takes centre stage. The ECB and CA must have their good reasons for placing it first on the calendar. Some of us might have preferred a warm-up game or two against Australian sides before committing to by far the biggest international match England can play outside a world tournament.

As with all international events these days, we can only hope that the latest Covid trends don’t affect a much anticipated tour