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Ashes Betting: England bowling crisis? What crisis?

Stuart Broad has worked to straighten his run-up for Australian conditions
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England's fast bowling injury list is huge but Ralph Ellis argues the key players are fully fit and the youngsters might be capable of stepping up.

"Anderson, made vice captain, has looked good so far and is [4.3] to be top series wicket tacker while Broad has worked to straighten his run-up and get more bounce and seam."

Gareth Southgate might be talking up our young footballers, but on the other side of the world another England manager seems less inclined to embrace a new generation.

My Daily Mail colleague Paul Newman asked cricket head coach Trevor Bayliss why he'd chosen 20-year-old George Garton to come into his squad ahead of the Ashes.

Crikey, it's a standard, soft question. I've asked it myself a load of times down the years to a manager who had called up a newcomer, and you sit back and write down the fulsome words of praise about talent and potential that inevitably follow.

Not this time. Why Garton? "Because he's fit," said Bayliss. "Mark Wood and Tom Helm were our first choices but they are not quite up to game speed, Liam Plunkett missed his last game in the Bangladesh Premier League with a slight hamstring, so it's down to Garton."

I think "damned with faint praise" is the saying. If you were Garton, stepping off a plane full of enthusiasm to grab your chance, you'd feel utterly deflated.

But just as the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jordan Pickford last week staked their claim to go to the World Cup, so Garton - and 23-year-old Craig Overton - might yet find they can force Bayliss to consider them.

England are now out to [5.1] to win the Ashes series with Australia [1.79] to win the first Test in Brisbane simply because of their bowling crisis.

The injury list is huge. And it's fascinating that the former Somerset and Derbyshire coach Steffan Jones has published on his Instagram page a theory that modern training methods are making fast bowlers unfit for purpose.


I've counted Toby Roland-Jones (stress fracture), Jamie Porter (stress fracture), Steven Finn (torn knee cartilage), Jake Ball (strained ankle ligaments), Liam Plunkett (hamstring strain), Tom Helm (hamstring strain), Mark Wood (ankle) and Jamie Overton (stress fracture) all currently considered unavailable. There are probably more, and of course there is also Ben Stokes absent for allegedly injuring somebody else.

Yet while the problems seem dramatic, apart from Stokes they don't actually do England too much damage.

Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad were always going to be the two main strike bowlers and both are fit. Anderson, made vice captain, has looked good so far and is [4.3] to be top series wicket tacker while Broad has worked to straighten his run-up and get more bounce and seam.

Chris Woakes is an automatic pick to be next in line and he's shown he's fit too after his own injury hit summer.

So if Craig Overton continues his promising start to the tour, or Garton suddenly steams in with his left-armers and takes wickets in this week's final warm-up match in Townsville, England will have gained rather than lost.

Bayliss might not be thrilled about his lack of options, but just as Southgate discovered when he threw Loftus-cheek into the number ten role at Wembley, the one thing younger players offer is a complete lack of fear.

As Alan Hansen memorably learned, sometimes you do win things with kids.

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