Shane Warne picks his Ashes XIs | cricket.com.au

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Shane Warne picks his Ashes XIs

The leg-spin legend names his Australia and England playing XIs for the first Test at the Gabba in November

Ashes legend Shane Warne has picked his version of the Australia and England playing XIs for this summer's hotly-anticipated five-Test series.

The Magellan Ashes opener in Brisbane on November 23 will be the next Test for both sides following Australia's drawn 1-1 series in Bangladesh and England's 2-1 victory at home against the West Indies.

Both teams have selection issues to ponder while they play limited overs series – the Australians in India and England at home to the Windies.

But Warne has nailed his colours to the mast early, declaring a "settled" Aussie squad will have the Ashes advantage with Usman Khawaja back in the Test XI after being dropped in Bangladesh.

For Australia, Warne calls for the retention of under-fire wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, who by-and-large impressed with his glovework in difficult conditions in Bangladesh, but remains under heavy pressure to post a score with the bat.

Warne's XI also calls for Glenn Maxwell to be retained at the No.6 spot, with his off-spinners a handy bonus, with no room for a seam-bowling allrounder in an attack featuring three of the 'Big Four' fast bowlers.

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"Maxwell is the X-factor at No.6," Warne told Sky Sports. "He's tightened his technique up a little bit and can really get hold of you.

"Matthew Wade is short of runs. Everyone was doubting his wicketkeeping, he was pretty ordinary behind the stumps. But his wicketkeeping has improved out of sight, but now his batting has gone off. "

With Nathan Lyon an automatic selection following his winter exploits in India and Bangladesh, he enters a home summer without scrutiny over his spot for the first time.

That spells the end of the possibility of Australia playing all four of their firebrand fast bowlers in the Ashes opener, and the unlucky quick to miss out in Warne's XI is Victorian James Pattinson, the spin king's 12th man behind the pace of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins with the metronomic accuracy of Josh Hazlewood.

While Australia is settled, Warne has made several changes to the England side that beat the West Indies and South Africa in Test series at home.

England have struggled to find a stable batting combination in their northern summer, with Keaton Jennings, Gary Ballance, Tom Westley, Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan all tried in various spots in the batting order without any making clear-cut cases to nail down a spot.

Warne has opted to keep only Stoneman from that group in his XI, although he finds a spot in the squad for Malan, with Alex Hales – more known for his limited overs power hitting – to play in the middle order.

"Stoneman has done enough to get in," Warne said. "He looks quite good and quite organised. I think his game will be well suited to Australia."

Hales played 11 Tests for England in the 2015-16 period, his last in early August 2016 against Pakistan. In 21 innings as an opener alongside Cook, he scored 573 runs at 27.28 with a top score of 94 against Sri Lanka at Lord's.

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But Hales has plundered 424 first-class runs from the middle order in seven second division matches in England's county system and Warne believes his strong game against the short-ball would hold him in good stead in Australia.

"I think Alex Hales has got a better game for Australian conditions," Warne said, championing his selection ahead of Tom Westley.

"(Westley) has got a scrambled brain, he cannot go to Australia with a scrambled brain, I think he will get worked out.

"He’s got too many issues that he needs to sort out.

"Westley hasn't done enough; I think Malan has got something about him, I think he's maybe one of the spare batsmen.

"But Westley doesn't make it, for me. I think Hales is the better player. The question was, is there anyone better, I think Hales is a better player. Plays the short stuff very, very well too."

But Warne's move to include Hales is predicated on England skipper Joe Root moving up the order, an idea that has gained traction among pundits but one the current skipper has been reluctant to entertain.

Warne has also called England to hand a cap to leg-spin rising star Mason Crane. The 20-year-old who spent last summer in Australia playing Premier Cricket in Sydney before making his Sheffield Shield debut at the SCG, was in England's Test squad for their home summer.

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Although he was unable to break into the playing XI for the Test team, he did earn a T20 international debut.

"Crane is your X-factor, he might not bowl much in the first innings but when it’s flat, give him the ball," Warne added.

"He’s already got wickets at the Sydney Cricket Ground, so he likes Australian conditions.

Warne's Australia Ashes XI: Matt Renshaw, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood. James Pattinson 12th man.

Warne's England Ashes XI: Mark Stoneman, Alastair Cook, Joe Root (c), Alex Hales, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Mason Crane, James Anderson.



2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series


First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets


Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets


Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets


Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets


Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets


ODI Series v England


First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets


Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets


Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets


Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets


Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF


Prime Minister's XI


PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets


T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series


First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets


Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets


Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets


Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14


Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16


Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18


Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21