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Bayliss keeping an open mind over selection for Ashes series

 

By Damian Spellman

England coach Trevor Bayliss has revealed Ashes places are still up for grabs with a new generation of top-order batsmen yet to nail down their places.

Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley and Dawid Malan played their part in the series victory over the West Indies, which was clinched by a nine-wicket win inside three days at Lord's on Saturday, but questions remain over their readiness to face Australia in their own backyard.

However, Bayliss has indicated they remain in pole position, although the likes of Alex Hales, Keaton Jennings, Haseeb Hameed and Gary Ballance should not give up hope just yet.

He said: "That's the big question, whether the three guys we have been speaking about all summer have done enough.

"They have shown they are good enough. But are they good enough for long enough? Are they tough enough, especially for an Ashes series?

"We will be discussing other players we have had in the team over the last 12-18 months. They will get a hearing, but it will be hard to go past these three guys.

"There are another two or three county matches to play, and that will be a factor too."

Westley and Stoneman are among a group of players who will now link up with their counties, but Alastair Cook and bowler Jimmy Anderson will take a break while Stuart Broad is to undergo a scan on the heel injury which hampered him during the third and final Test.

The search for a long-term partner for opener Cook as well as numbers three and five remain priorities, but Bayliss is convinced the right candidate for at least one of those positions is already firmly on board in the shape of skipper Joe Root.

He said: "I would always have him at three. Joe is comfortable batting at four ... [but] I think he will end up at three at some stage in the future.

"He is by far our best player, and personally I believe that is where your best player should be."

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