The Ashes are over. England’s hopes of winning in Australia must wait for another four years.
With the inquest into another huge defeat under way, we asked a group of players – those still involved in or recently retired from county cricket – to pick the stand-out players who could break into the England Test team.
Joe Clarke – batter, Nottinghamshire
Former England bowler Harry Gurney: Joe Clarke is the best player I can think of currently in county cricket that is yet to pull on an England shirt. He already has the hallmarks of being a world-class player, he just hasn’t pulled on the Three Lions yet.
He could play for England over the next three or four years unless he goes down the franchise route, which he is more than able to do – he’s a good enough T20 player.
His game is well-rounded for all of the formats. If we’re talking Test cricket, he has scored runs in the County Championship and has all the tools to be successful at international level.
I’d like to see him given an opportunity, but he needs to go and bash out hundreds in the Championship this season. The selectors need to have a good look at him because he’s a hell of a batter.
Phil Salt – opener, Lancashire
Former Australia batter and ex-Middlesex coach Stuart Law: Saqib Mahmood has sheer pace and Jordan Cox, a wicketkeeper-batter at Kent, is one to keep an eye on.
A real dark horse for me would be a guy like Phil Salt. At the top of the order he’s pretty brash about the way he goes about his cricket, a super-confident guy.
He’s moved from Sussex to Lancashire, so will now be playing on a pitch that has pace and bounce, and will take some spin later in Championship matches.
That will develop his game even further and he should only get better from now on.
Mason Crane – leg-spinner, Hampshire
Former England all-rounder Ravi Bopara: Mason Crane played one Test on the Ashes tour of 2017-18, but is still young and can be someone to play for England again in the future.
I think his way back into international cricket would first be in the white-ball format. He’s really improved his bowling style and has become very accurate. Working with Shane Warne at London Spirit has helped him.
If he can do well there, he could progress into the red-ball set-up. There are obviously differences, but coming through the limited-overs team is a decent stepping stone.
Tom Haines – batter, Sussex
England pace bowler Tymal Mills: With all the talk about county pitches and how they are supposedly difficult for batting, you have to look at who did score runs last season and Tom Haines managed to churn out well over 1,000 runs in the Championship last year.
There might be some Sussex bias from me and he perhaps needs another year in domestic cricket, but I like how he looks to score. He’s able to put the bad ball away, even at the start of the innings, and he’s also able to weather good spells of bowling.
If he can back up what he did last year I’d love to see him get an opportunity.
Tom Helm – pace bowler, Middlesex
Former England fast bowler Steven Finn: Tom Helm has the pace, bounce, height and swing to be able to trouble the best batters in the world.
He’s not played enough cricket in the past couple of years to push his name forward for selection, but he could succeed on pitches in places like Australia and South Africa, has the ability to bowl reverse-swing in the subcontinent and can swing the Dukes ball.
He has all the attributes to be successful in Test cricket.
Josh Bohannon – batter, Lancashire
Former England assistant coach and Warwickshire director of cricket Paul Farbrace: Dom Sibley will come again. I’ve been watching him practise and he has made big strides in terms of technique.
In terms of a new face, Josh Bohannon has a very simple technique and is well organised. He batted against Warwickshire on a pitch that had decent bounce, Liam Norwell got five wickets and Bohannon played him very well.
He’s organised, thorough and looks like he has everything to compete at the highest level. He also looks like he’s got the extra edge, a willingness to get stuck in. He’s very impressive.
In the next 12-15 months he could make the step-up to international cricket.
Alex Lees – opener, Durham
Former England bowler Liam Plunkett: Alex Lees is someone who, since he has moved from Yorkshire to Durham, has been one of the best performing openers in the county game.
He loves a challenge, has experience aged 28 and is very strong mentally, which you need to be at the top of the order.
He was on the England Lions tour of Australia in the winter so is clearly in the management’s thoughts.
Matt Parkinson – leg-spinner, Lancashire
Former Lancashire and Leicestershire captain Paul Horton: England haven’t decided if Jack Leach is their best spin option and the next cab off the rank should be Matt Parkinson.
He’s a fierce competitor, as is his brother Callum. The challenge of Test cricket would not overawe him. Whether his skills are up to it, only time will tell, but he would relish the big stage.
He’s done well when he has played white-ball cricket for England, so that should only hold him in good stead.