24/04/2024

The Aussies celebrating a wicket in Sydney. (Photo: Izhar Ahemd)

Despite the Aussies still revelling a 4-0 Ashes victory, planning is already underway to ensure Australia's continued dominance on home soil

Cricket Australia’s calendar revolves almost solely around winning the Ashes series’ both at home and abroad, with teams built to be at their fiery best for those series.

The current depth in Australian cricket is no doubt the strongest it has been for some time, and with the core of the squad aged between 28-36, they are primed to retain the urn in England in 2023.

However, with the likes of David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Scott Boland all set to be 34 years or older come the next Ashes series on Australian shores in 2025/26, what will the make of the team look like then?

While the glow of Australia’s resounding 4-0 series victory is still shining brightly, the powers that be are already focussing on ensuring the next crop of talented players have the necessary experience to continue the dominance on home soil.

So who are the selectors looking at as they begin their preparations for the next home series?

The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the possible best XI for the 2025/26 Ashes summer.

* This is a look at the next generation of Australian talent and will therefore not include anyone older than current skipper Pat Cummins who will turn 32-years-old in 2025.

Top order

1. Bryce Street

After his gritty performance in last year’s Sheffield Shield final, Street has finally secured his spot at the top of the Queensland batting line-up and could quickly see himself become a staple of the Australian top order.

Street relished the opportunity to face incumbent Australian bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon as well as Australian calibre quicks Sean Abbott and Trent Copeland in last years Sheffield Shield final, putting on a match-winning partnership with Marnus Labuschagne.

He also translated that success into the start of this season, posting 324 runs at the halfway mark of the season compared to the 391 he made last year.

Street’s most recent performance of 119 not out for Australia A put him firmly in discussions for a debut this summer. While his baggy green was not forthcoming expect Street to be in the conversation as he further establishes himself as a test match quality batter.

MatRunsAveSR100s50s
First Class22134940.8733.0555

2. Henry Hunt

Hunt is a much more explosive player than his opening partner, he enjoys hitting the gaps in the field that facing the new ball provides and could be Australia’s answer to David Warner’s impending retirement.

Last season was his career-best, scoring 628 runs at an average of 44.86, firmly putting himself on the national selector’s radar.

While this season hasn’t been as fruitful for Hunt, his body of work earned a call up to the Australia A team and despite not setting the world on fire definitely did his chances no harm for future selection.

MatchesRunsAveSR100s50s
First Class22157938.5148.5355

3. Marnus Labuschagne

Currently the world’s number one test batter, Labuschagne will be a fixture of the Australian test side for the foreseeable future.

With the impending retirements of some of Australia’s most senior batters, Labuschagne will become an even more pivotal part of the Australian lineup, especially with an inexperienced opening partnership.

While there may be calls for Labuschagne to shift down the order into more of an anchoring role at four, his ability to leave the ball and occupy the crease for long periods of time makes him the most suitable for his current role at three.

MatRunsAveSR100s50s
Test23222056.9253.77612
First Class104778946.3654.062141
Marnus Labuschagne in action during this years Ashes series. Photo: cricket.com.au

Middle order

4. Will Pucovski

While playing his only test match as an opener, Pucovski can fill a hole in the middle order playing a role that he made his name in as a junior.

Pucovski began his first-class career with Victoria batting in the middle order, before being moved up the order with an eye to making his Australian debut.

However, a shoulder injury and concussion issues have sidelined Pucovski yet again, and with a timeline for his return to international cricket still undetermined he may find it hard to crack into the top order.

Pucovski’s talent remains unquestioned, so if Steve Smith is still apart of the team come 2025/26, he is more than capable of partnering Street or Hunt at the top of the order if required.

MatchesRunsAverage SR100s50s
Test17236.0057.1401
First Class24181653.4150.7266

5. Travis Head

Head has finally established himself in this Australian team after being awarded player of the series after finally translating his trademark short form aggression to his test batting.

He can easily take the game away from any team in a matter of hours, as shown with his centuries in Brisbane and Hobart.

While there will be talk about Head possibly being elevated up the order upon Smith’s retirement, his temperament and ability to go within himself to resurrect an innings is still a huge question mark.

However, if he can remain nestled in at number five he can stick to his natural game and be the game changer required to continue the Australian dominance.

MatRunsAveSR100s50s
Test23151043.1455.1648
First Class130893440.6060.211951

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6. Cameron Green

The 22-year-old all-rounder has punched his ticket into the test team for at least the next decade after a break-out series with the ball while showing promise with the bat in the final two tests.

Green provides immense flexibility to this Australian side with his ability to bowl allowing them to play a second spinner when required.

However, his ability and temperament with the bat in hand could also see him shuffle up the order in the future allowing Head or others to fulfill the game-changing power-hitting role that has held Australia in good stead in the past.

MatRunsAveSR100s50s
Test946433.1443.0803
First Class39270850.1452.9589
MatWktsAveSREconBBI
Test91324.8457.52.593/21
First Class395329.3257.73.046/30

Wicketkeeper

7. Josh Inglis

While incumbent keeper Alex Carey is only beginning his test career and will only be 34-years-old come the next home series, a team wide changing of the guard could see Inglis chosen as the preferred gloveman.

The West Australian keeper has proven himself with the bat over recent seasons scoring 585 runs in 12 innings in the 2020/21 season compared to 323 runs in the 2019/20 season.

Inglis has also spent some time around the Australian squads recently joining the test squad as COVID back up as well as travelling to the UAE as a part of the ODI World Cup squad, following a similar path to Carey before he was instated as the test wicketkeeper.

MatRunsAveSR100s50s
First Class46225233.6162.60312

Bowlers

8. Pat Cummins (c)

The newly minted Australian skipper is one of the premier fast bowlers in the world and will remain a mainstay of the Australian team as they plan for the next home Ashes series.

Cummins will be the most experienced bowler in the lineup by some way, and with his recent success in Ashes series will prove to be pivotal as he leads a young and exciting bowling lineup.

MatWktsAve SREconBBI
Test3818521.1945.92.766/23
First Class5223122.4048.02.796/23
Pat Cummins preparing to bowl. Photo: cricket.com.au

9. Jhye Richardson

The skiddy pace bowler has started his test career with a bang while filling in for injured mainstays.

His most recent appearance at test level only furthered his credentials claiming 5/42 in the second innings of the Adelaide test to help the Aussies seal a victory.

While he still remains behind the incumbent quicks on the pecking order the 25-year-old will be a constant feature of this team once given a sustained opportunity.

MatchesWktsAveSREconBBI
Test 31122.0948.62.725/42
First Class229521.2647.42.688/47

10. Riley Meredith

Meredith brings raw speed to this new look bowling attack.

While he has struggled with injury over recent seasons but has proven to be a wicket taker when fully fit claiming 27 wickets in the 2018/19 Sheffield Shield season and 20 wickets in the 2019/20 Sheffield Shield season.

Meredith’s role will be to use his pace in a similar vein to Mitchell Starc. He has recently been at his most devastating best in the BBL claiming 55 wickets in the past four seasons, and if he can emulate that form back into the Sheffield Shield he could soon be in the frame for test selection.

MatchesWktsAveSREconBBI
First Class215834.5057.03.625/98

11. Mitchell Swepson

Swepson has been the heir apparent to Nathan Lyon for some time, with selectors already planning for Lyon’s impending retirement by including the Queensland leg-spinner in previous test squads to ensure he becomes familiar with the set-up before accepting his baggy green.

While he is yet to make his test debut, it appears inevitable with upcoming tours of the sub-continent where a second spinner is the preferred option of many international teams.

While there is some other young spinners quickly climbing the ranks Australia has shown a propensity in the past to pick and stick with their next spinner long before they make their debut which means Swepson should feature in the 2025/26 series and be a senior leader of the team.

MatchesWktsAveSREconBBI
First Class4915333.7658.03.495/55

Waiting in the wings

Australia has always been great at ensuring they have great depth in their test ranks, which has been more than handy when playing in an Ashes series, the longest test match series on the calendar. This fact should be no different come 2025.

Victorian opener Marcus Harris could still be around the Australian set up for the series, with the attacking left hander set to turn 33 before the series begins.

Former test opener Matt Renshaw has been transformed into a middle order batsman since returning to the Queensland side and could feature in this Australian side if required.

There is also an exciting crop of young fast bowlers who have been exposed to a higher level much earlier in their careers thanks to the success of the BBL.

With the likes of Zak Evans (21), Xavier Bartlett (23), Wes Agar (24) and Will Sutherland (22) all featuring for their respective BBL clubs.

New South Wales spinner Tanveer Sangha has had an incredible start to his fledgling career shooting up the ranks thanks to an extraordinary BBL|10 campaign. While the 20-year-old has only played two first class matches by the time the next Ashes series commences he could be breathing down the neck of Swepson.

Another West Australian wicketkeeper, Josh Phillipe looks likely to become the next in line following Inglis’ elevation. While he’s first class career is also young he has shown his wares with the bat and gloves for the Sydney Sixers in the BBL.

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