The success of the England Cricket Team is based by and large on winning the Ashes. This year with a winter Ashes series in the offing, the home tests against South Africa and the West Indies are by and large a build up to the main event. England went into the 2017 home tests with 7 certainies for selection. Barring injury Alistair Cook, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad and James Anderson will line up in the first test in Australia There are question marks about an opening partner for Cook, the No 3 batting slot, the No 5 batting slot on the 4th bowler. It was nice to beat South Africa, but what (if anything did we learn)?? No 2 – there have been 12 opening partners for Alistair Cook since the retirement of Andrew Strauss. Keyton Jennings played against South Africa’s strong pace attack, and did not fare well. Mark Stoneman of Durham has been selected to play against the West Indies. I do feel a bit sorry for Jennings, but there are flaws in his technique that he will need to work on. I would take Alex Hales on the tour who is a proven international cricketer (all be it against the white ball). Young Hammed of Lancashire surely needs to score some runs? No 3 – we started with Garry Balance who continues to not move his feet and get’s caught on the crease. Tom Westley has come in and has done ok. He will need to get runs against the Windies to secure a place on the tour. No 5 – Dawid Malan is currently in the side. So far I have to say that I’m not convinced Other possibilities in the middle order would be James Vince, Ian Bell (though he has hardly got stacks of runs), Samit Patel, Tom Lawrence or the afore mentioned Hales . Jos Butler will surely go as the other keeper – one option would be to play him, and move Jonny Bairstow to 5 4th Bowler (pace) – apart from Sydney we will play a seamer. Here we have a nice problem. Chris Woakes has returned from injury, but Toby Roland-Jones has done well. I would take both, but would pick Woakes in the starting XI Spinner – Moeen Ali has cemented his place, but we need a second spinner. Liam Dawson has had a go, and Mason Crane is in the Winides squad. Surely we won’t throw the yoiung lad in against Australia with no test experience?? So many questions to be answered starting at Edgbaston!