Which big-name misses out? A combined Ashes XI

With the Ashes just hours away, it's time to look at the big names within each eleven.

This is the most exciting and closest Ashes has felt since 2005, with stars throughout the Australian and English lineups. But who would get into a combined XI from both countries? Well, Edge of the Crowd and the Top Edge Podcast is here to answer that question.

The Openers

The options - Zak Crawley (ENG), Ben Duckett (ENG), David Warner (AUS), Usman Khawaja (AUS).

This is the battle between the two up-and-coming openers against Australia's two wiley old veterans. With a Test average of less than 30 after 34 matches, it's impossible to pick Zak Crawley while Usman Khawaja walks into the side after averaging 64.84 in the last two years alone.

The final battle is between Ben Duckett, who has burst onto the scene over the last 12 months, and David Warner's career has been on a knife edge. With an average of 69 and a strike rate of almost 100 since the BazBall era, it's impossible to go past Duckett, especially with Warner only getting past 50 once in the last 12 months.

Selections: Usman Khawaja and Ben Duckett.

The Middle Order

The options - are Ollie Pope (ENG), Joe Root (ENG), Harry Brook (ENG), Marnus Labuschagne (AUS), Steve Smith (AUS), and Travis Head (AUS).

The ICC rankings make this selection pretty obvious; the Australian middle order is the world's number one, two and three-ranked batters. But in the BazBall era, nothing is as simple as looking at the rankings.

While Ollie Pope has been impressive as of late, it's impossible to include a batter with an overall Test average of 35.27 on this side. Marnus Labcuahcnge averages 56.73 in his career and impressively 63 during the last 12 months, striking four centuries in that time. He quickly gets in the side over Ollie Pope while Steve Smith slides in front of Joe Root with averages of 62 and 54, respectively.

However, it's impossible to leave Harry Brook out of this side. The Yorkshireman has been dominant since coming into Test cricket with him, averaging 81.80 with four centuries from his seven Tests. Travis Head is the final man with an average of more than 60 and a strike rate of more than 80 during the 12-month selection period. With no other man getting more player-of-the-match performances during this period, there is no option but to include Travis Head.

Selections: Marnus Labuschagne, Harry Brook and Travis Head.

The All-rounder

Options - Ben Stokes (ENG), Cameron Green (AUS)

While Ben Stokes is under a small albeit real injury cloud with a knee that will be heavily strapped during the Ashes, Cameron Green comes into this series in the best form of his life after having a great IPL and an excellent start to the English Summer in the World Test Championship.

Over the last 12 months, Stokes' numbers look good, with a batting average of 31.66 and a bowling average of 26.17. While Cameron Green has batted better, averaging 35.30 in that discipline and almost 30 with the ball. Stokes, of course, also has the advantage of being the English captain and, therefore, has to be the selection on this side.

Selection: Ben Stokes.

The Wicket-Keeper

Options: Jonny Bairstow (ENG), Alex Carey (AUS)

This is a battle of two contrasting styles and two conflicting attitudes towards wicketkeeping. England has opted for the batter who can keep, while the Aussies have a keeper who can bat. England could have gone for the better keeper in Ben Foakes, but Bairstow's form in 2022 brought him back to the England side.

While Bairstow didn't get a bat in the most recent Test against Ireland, his form in 2022 before breaking his leg was incredible, averaging over 100 with three centuries while scoring at almost a run a ball. Alex Carey hasn't quite been as impressive, although he did have a great World Test Championship Final, scoring more than 100 runs across the match. Bairstow is undeniable, though, and has to be the choice.

Selection: Jonny Bairstow.

The Fast Bowlers

Options - James Anderson (ENG), Stuart Broad (ENG), Ollie Robinson (ENG), Pat Cummins (AUS), Mitch Starc (AUS), Scott Boland (AUS)

With almost 180 Tests under his belt since his debut 20 years ago, it's hard to go past James Anderson, who will likely push past 700 wickets in this series. He may be getting older, but his results are just getting better, having averaged 17.29 across the last 12 months. Anderson is an easy selection over Starc, who, while offering a point-of-difference bowling left arm, can't slide into this side due to being expensive on occasion and not taking a five-wicket haul across the last 12 months.

Stuart Broad is against Pat Cummins in the battle for the next spot in this eleven. Broad has had a long and storied career taking almost 600 wickets and incredible averaging just 24 with the ball across the last 12 months. However, with his extra pace, accuracy, and the fact he is captain, Pat Cummins has to be selected. The fact the Aussie captain takes a wicket every 21.74 runs through his career with an elite strike rate of 47.25 means he is easily picked.

The final battle comes down to the two newest men on the scene. Ollie Robinson has been impressive coming in to add to a strong English bowling lineup and taking 66 wickets from his first 16 Tests at an average of just over 21. Boland, though, has had the best start to a Test career since the turn of the 20th century, having taken 33 wickets at an average of less than 15. That incredibly drops to just over eight when bowling in the second innings. Boland is the obvious choice.

Selections: James Anderson, Pat Cummins, Scott Boland.

The Spinner

Options: Moeen Ali (ENG), Nathan Lyon (AUS).

This is probably the easiest selection of the lot. Lyon has actually been playing Test cricket while Moeen has been plying his trade in the T20 leagues all around the world. There is every chance Moeen comes out and dominates the first Test, but without any recent form to base his selection on, it's hard to go past Nathan Lyon, who should get past 500 wickets in this series.

Selection: Nathan Lyon.

The Combined England-Australia Ashes XI

1. Ben Duckett

2. Usman Khawaja

3. Marnus Labuschagne

4. Harry Brook

5. Travis Head

6. Ben Stokes (c)

7. Jonny Bairstow

8. Pat Cummins

9. Scott Boland

10. Nathan Lyon

11. James Anderson

Before you move on, why not give our Facebook page a like here? Or follow our Twitter account to keep up with our work here.