The first Test of Ashes 2013 starts on Wedneday and England are being labeled as favourites to retain the Ashes. Here's an analysis on the 15 players of England squad.
Alastair Cook (Captain)
Left-handed opening batsman
Age: 28, Tests: 92, Batting average: 49.17
From the moment he scored a Test century on his debut in India in 2006 after arriving as an injury replacement from an A tour in the Caribbean, the tall dark-haired left-hander has gone from strength to strength.
Blessed with immense mental strength and an effective, pragmatic style, Cook is already England's leading Test century scorer with 25 hundreds.
Cook scored 766 runs in seven innings during England's Ashes triumph in Australia in 2010-11 and scaled further heights after taking over as England captain last year following Andrew Strauss's sudden retirement.
He scored three centuries in a row in the first three matches of a four-Test series in India as England rebounded from 1-0 down to win 2-1 in one of the great comebacks. His batting against the Indian spinners was also outstanding with exemplary footwork and potent use of the sweep shot.
After recording two centuries against Bangladesh as stand-in skipper while Strauss was rested, Cook is the first man to score five centuries in his first five matches as captain. He is also the youngest man to score 7,000 Ttest runs and is on course to becoming the most prolific England batsman ever.
Age 22, Tests: Six, Batting average: 42.40
Potential and obvious class rather than weight of runs persuaded England to select the young Yorkshireman, who showed his character and temperament with a painstaking 73 in his debut against India last year.
He failed to get going on the tour of New Zealand this year but on the return visit, Root ultimately scored a match-winning 71 from 120 balls against the New Zealanders at Lord's and then became the first Yorkshireman to score a Test century at Headingley since Michael Vaughan.
Root is a fine fielder and a useful off-spin bowler who has been restored to his natural position of opener in partnership with Cook for the Ashes.
Age: 32, Tests: 43, Batting average: 50.01
Trott has filled the problematic England number three spot with total assurance since scoring a century on debut in the Oval Test against Australia in 2009 where England regained the Ashes.
In the following year he scored a double century against Bangladesh, 184 against Pakistan at Lord's and then further hundreds in Adelaide and Melbourne during the successful Ashes tour of Australia.
Born and educated in South Africa, Trott used his British passport to join Warwickshire and quickly showed his hunger for runs in the county game.
Phlegmatic and unhurried, Trott has a sound technique and total concentration which makes him an automatic pick for his adopted country.
Age: 33, Tests: 94, Batting average: 49.01
Pietersen's brash public persona alienates many fans in his adopted country and there have been persistent problems with team mates and management since he left his native South Africa to pursue fame and fortune in England.
What is not in doubt is Pietersen's breathtaking ability since he announced his presence in a losing cause in the 2005 Test at Lord's against Australia followed by an astonishing century at the Oval which ensured England regained the Ashes after 16 fruitless years.
Pietersen can reduce the best bowlers in the world to hapless bystanders as he showed during his brilliant 149 against South Africa at Headingley last year. He was then dropped for the next test over alleged text messages to the opposition containing derogatory remarks about his colleagues.
Reinstalled to the England ranks, he scored an imperious 186 in Mumbai, described as the best innings ever by an England batsman on the sub-continent, before he was injured in the following series against New Zealand.
Now fit again, Pietersen remains one of the few batsmen in the world who can turn a match on its head in the course of a session.
Age: 31, Tests: 88, Batting average: 45.57
Bell's elegance and technique marked him as an England prospect at an early age and 17 Test centuries with an average in the mid-forties is a testament to his ability.
He struggled in the 2005 Ashes series and for a while afterwards his big scores tended to come when the other batsmen around him were also dominating.
Bell began to change the perception that he was essentially a fair weather player with some fighting innings on the tour of South Africa in 2009-10 and ran into a rich vein of form which included his first Ashes hundred on the 2010-11 tour.
He has faltered again since, failing against the Pakistan spinners last year, although he did score an unbeaten century in the fourth Test of a successful India tour.
Age: 23, Tests: Eight, Batting average 31.00
A Yorkshire team mate of Root, Bairstow made his debut against West Indies last year but was dropped after enduring a difficult series against the hostile pace of Kemar Roach.
Recalled against South Africa after Kevin Pietersen was dropped, Bairstow responded with a fighting 95 in the first innings and a half-century in the second innings.
He played only a limited part in the India series after he returned home because of a family illness.
Age: 31, Tests: 67, Batting average: 44.33, Dismissals: 189 catches, 13 stumpings
Prior made a splendid start to his Test career by becoming the first England wicketkeeper to score a century on debut with an unbeaten 126 against West Indies at Lord's in 2007.
He continued to impress with his ebullient batting but his wicketkeeping technique was soon exposed as inadequate at Test level and he surrendered his place to Tim Ambrose the following year.
Prior showed his character by transforming his glove work after working relentlessly with former England keeper Bruce French.
He returned to the national side and has now established himself as the best batsman-wicketkeeper in the world, with the ability to score substantial runs in quick time.
All-rounder (Right-arm pace/Right-handed batsman)
Age: 28, Tests: 18, Batting average: 31.28, Bowling: 57 wickets @ 32.54.
Bresnan's first 13 Tests resulted in England victories and his accurate bowling and ability to reverse swing the ball at a deceptively brisk pace had brought 52 wickets at 25.46 runs each at that stage.
He was hampered last year by an elbow injury which took much of the snap out of his action and has since undergone surgery.
Bresnan hits the ball hard down the order and has a highest Test score of 91 against Bangladesh.
Right-arm pace bowler
Age: 27, Tests: 57, Bowling: 195 wickets @ 30.93.
Broad effectively regained the Ashes for England in 2009 with five for 37 from 12 overs in the final Test at the Oval and at his best he can look the most dangerous bowler in the world.
He can also look world class with the bat, striking the ball cleanly with a high backlift from a left-handed stance, but his average has slumped to the low twenties and he can longer be called an allrounder.
Tall and with a high, whippy action, Broad is still plagued by inconsistency and can appear petulant and ineffective when conditions are in the batsman's favour.
He showed both his worst and the best sides in the Lord's Test against New Zealand this year. Broad consistently over-pitched in the first innings but was then unplayable in the second, taking a match-winning seven for 44 in what he regards as his best spell in Test cricket.
Right arm off-spin bowler
Age: 34, Tests: 52, Bowling: 222 wickets @ 28.50
Swann is England's best off-spinner since Jim Laker, the destroyer of the 1956 Australians, and he is crucial to England's hopes of retaining the Ashes.
He toured South Africa with the 1999 England team but did not make the test side and spent the following seasons refining his skills on the county circuit, switching from Northamptonshire to Nottinghamshire.
Swann was called up for England's tour of India in 2008, took two wickets in his first over, and has been the first choice spinner in the Test and one-day side since.
Bowling with a vigorous body action, Swann spins the ball appreciably and is a master of flight.
He is also a skilled second slip and dangerous attacking batsman low in the order who looks to be back to his best after a second operation to his right elbow to remove bone fragments.
Right-arm fast bowler
Age: 24, Tests: 22, Bowling: 88 wickets @ 28.73
Finn marked his first home Test with five for 87 against Bangladesh at Lord's, bowling with impressive pace and control.
His height and speed had already marked him out at an early age as an England prospect and his performance against Bangladesh at the headquarters of his county club Middlesex confirmed his selection for the subsequent Pakistan series and the Ashes tour of Australia.
Finn took six for 125 in the first Test in Brisbane but lost his place later in the series to Tim Bresnan and, although, he has been an England regular since, he can still be expensive.
Right-arm pace bowler
Age: 30, Tests: 82, Bowling: 307 wickets @ 30.14
One more wicket will put Anderson ahead of Fred Trueman in the all-time England list and the best swing bowler in the world deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the first man to take 300 Test victims.
Anderson never possessed Trueman's raw pace but he has refined his skills to such an extent that he is an equal master of conventional outswing while also adding the modern art of reverse swing.
He can bend the new ball both ways with no discernible change in action and showed his maturity and skill in India during the English winter where he took 12 wickets at 30.25 in conditions and on pitches offering no help whatsover to pace bowlers.
Right-arm pace bowler
Age: 30, Tests: Nine, Bowling: 32 wickets @ 29.90
Onions grabbed the headlines with five for 38 at Lord's on his debut Test against West Indies in 2009 and played in the first three Ashes Test against Australia.
A back injury interrupted his career and he returned last year to take four for 88 against West Indies in his only Test last year.
He failed to impress on the tour of New Zealand this year but bowled well in an Ashes warmup match against Essex and his accuracy and ability to bowl a tight line to the left-handers has won him a place in the squad.
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