England Ashes spots up for grabs: Botham

The Ashes is not the time to blood new players, says Beefy

Test legend Sir Ian Botham says there are "two or three" spots up for grabs in England’s Test squad for this summer’s Magellan Ashes.

England’s Test outfit will head to Australia full of confidence after beating South Africa 3-1 and West Indies 2-1 at home this season, but there remains serious questions over a number of positions, particularly in the batting order.

"Australia is not the place to wander down and learn quickly - you don't, you've really got to fight it out down there," Botham told Sky Sports.

"Batting-wise I think they will stay with the more experienced players and maybe the same with the bowlers, with possibly a couple of young players.

"I feel (Mark) Stoneman will go - he has been around a while, he is organised and he knows his own game - while (Tom) Westley has done himself no harm after playing more positively.

"There are two or three places up for grabs and it will be interesting to see which way the selectors go."

Sixteen players were used by England this northern summer but the spotlight has been on the misfiring No.2, 3 and 5 positions in the XI.

Durham’s Keaton Jennings started the season as Alastair Cook’s opening partner but after four Tests against the Proteas produced just 127 runs at 15.87 he was replaced by Surrey left-hander Stoneman.

Stoneman passed 50 just once in his five innings against the Windies but finished with an unbeaten 40 at Lord’s to guide England to a series win.

At the other end on 44 not out was Westley, the Essex first-drop who played Tests after the recalled Gary Ballance broke his finger in the heavy loss to South Africa at Trent Bridge.

Ballance might have been dropped had he not been ruled out with injury having scored just 85 runs in four innings. Westley, who started with 59 in his first Test, failed to capitalise on the opportunity presented by Ballance’s misfortune, averaging 24.12 in nine innings with just that one half-century.

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A batting reshuffle was required when Ballance left the team, meaning debuts for Westley and Middlesex's Dawid Malan, who slotted in at No.5.

Malan burst onto the international scene with a blistering 78 in a T20I against the Proteas but was unable to reproduce that performance in the Test arena.

In eight innings Malan produced two half-centuries and 189 runs at an average of 23.62 but couldn’t find the big score to cement his place in England’s XI and a spot on the plane to Australia. 

England coach Trevor Bayliss said after the nine-wicket win at Lord’s on Saturday he can’t see England’s selectors going outside of the group that has played in the past 12-18 months.

Which means the likes of Haseeb Hameed, Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and James Vince are all in contention and will have up to three first-class county matches to push their case for selection before the squad is announced in late September.