Back to top




Clarke looks back to solve England issues

08 August 2017

Ian Bell has been backed for an Ashes comeback // Getty

Cricket Network

Cricket Network

Former Australia captain offers his advice for England and Australia batting orders ahead of Ashes series

Former captain Michael Clarke has suggested England look back for the future with a left-field proposal to fix their batting woes.

England completed a 3-1 series triumph against South Africa on Monday with a 177 run for Joe Root's men, but questions persist over their batting order ahead of this summer's Ashes.

Opener Keaton Jennings, who averaged 15.87 in this series against South Africa, No.3 Tom Westley and No.5 Dawid Malan are all under the microscope.

"England look to be playing some really good cricket. Still believe they have some questions about their top three batting," Clarke wrote on his Twitter account.

"Is Ian Bell available for the Ashes? Perfect No.3 for that team."

From the Vault: Bell strikes at the SCG

Bell, at 35, played the last of his 118 Tests against Pakistan in Sharjah in 2015 as England lost the series 2-0.

After three Ashes tours, he has 895 runs, including one century and nine fifties, at 37.29 – some five runs lower than his career average of 42.69.

For Warwickshire in the County Championship's top flight this season, Bell, who captains the club, has 345 runs at 24.64 from eight matches, including a second-ball duck in his most recent outing overnight.

Clarke also suggested Kevin Pietersen would fill the void for England, although that prospect seems remote with the South Africa-born star's Australia appearances to come in the KFC BBL this summer.

Pietersen, who has been plying his wares in T20 competitions around the globe since being axed by England following their whitewash in 2013-14, still had the ability to improve the England XI, said Clarke.

Highlights: Bell makes Australia pay

"He would find whatever was required if he was picked for the Ashes," Clarke wrote. "One player does not make a team but I do believe he is a big loss."

England's Australia-born coach, Trevor Bayliss, said there was no avoiding the serious batting issues that faced his side in the wake of their series win against South Africa.

"It's always a good thing that you're winning but we're not papering over the cracks," Bayliss told reporters at Old Trafford.

"We know there are some spots that haven't been cemented down. We're still looking for those guys to prove their worth at this level.

"Hopefully not before too long we do see some big scores from some of those guys."

England have three Tests at home against the West Indies before the Ashes, while Australia has two in Bangladesh.

And even though both teams will be engaged in white-ball series, they know all roads lead to the Gabba for November 23.

"Win the first Test and you will win the series," Clarke declared.

Aussies demolish England at the Gabba, 2013

Australia have not lost a Gabba Test against England since November 1986, winning five and drawing two of the series since.

Clarke also turned his attentions to the Australia XI, and backed opener Matthew Renshaw to continue the impressive start to his international career.

In eight Tests against South Africa, Pakistan and India, Renshaw has amassed 547 runs at 42.07 with one ton and three fifties in 14 innings.

"He is still very young. Has shown a lot of talent, played pretty well in India also," Clarke wrote.

He also said South Australia's Travis Head would continue to be spoken about by selectors, and encouraged Australia to ditch the allrounder strategy that has long characterised team selection.

"I would be picking the best six batsmen," Clarke wrote. "I'm sure a few of them can bowl some overs."

Ashes tickets are on sale now

Click the ‘Buy tickets’ link next to the match you wish to attend or visit for more information

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