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Nasser Hussain
Cricket Expert & Columnist

Nasser Hussain reflects on England's Ashes squad announcement

Stokes: named in England's Ashes squad

Ben Stokes and Boyd Rankin deserve their spots in England's Ashes squad, says Nasser Hussain.

Durham all-rounder Stokes and Warwickshire seamer Rankin - both of whom were part of the one-day side that battled the Baggy Greens this summer - have been named in the 17-man party for this winter's tour Down Under.

Check out the squad in full here

"We saw him get wickets against Australia in the one-dayers and he can bowl up at 90mph and reverse swing it."

Nasser Hussain on Ben Stokes

Hussain believes Stokes' ability to bowl at pace and give the ball a "good bash" with the bat saw him leapfrog Chris Woakes, who played for England at The Oval in the final Ashes Test of the summer.

And the former England captain also believes that Ireland-born Rankin's height and bounce can unsettle the Australia batting line-up as Alastair Cook's charges attempt to replicate their win on Australian soil in 2010/11.

"Woakes is a very solid cricketer, but if you're talking about potential and who could end up the better cricketer I would probably say it is Stokes," Hussain told Sky Sports News. "He has the potential to become an Andrew Flintoff-type cricketer

"We saw him get wickets against Australia in the one-dayers and he can bowl up at 90mph and reverse swing it.

"And while he didn't do that much with the bat he played pretty well batting at Cardiff with Jos Buttler [when he made 25 off 29 balls], and he can give it a good bash.

"He is also a very good fielder and one of the reasons Durham won County Championship Division One was because of him."

Rankin's First-Class Record

Matches: 62
Wickets: 203
Average: 27.55
Best figures: 5/16
Strike rate: 44.8n

On Rankin, who took five Australian wickets during the recent one-day series after seizing four in a 50-over clash with Ireland at Malahide, Hussain added: "We have him in one-day cricket and seen why there has been such a fuss made.

"He is big, strong, approaching his best as a player and exactly how [Chris]Tremlett was three years ago when we went Down Under and won the Ashes - and we know some of the Australian players don't like the short ball."

Attacking

Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance was a shock selection in the squad, seeing off the challenge of Nottinghamshire's James Taylor, who was called up to the Test team as cover for Kevin Pietersen during the summer.

Hussain thinks the Zimbabwe-raised Balance - who scored 995 runs in his 13 County Championship appearances for Yorkshire this term at an average 52.37 - warrants his pick, but feels for Taylor, who accrued 870 runs at an average of 48.33 in four-day cricket in 2013.

"Ballance is a good player and you can't argue with his stats, while he has played on a pitch at Headingley where the ball does move around," said Hussain. "He is an attacking player and deserves his selection.

"It is a left-field selection, though, for a panel that are usually very consistent and Taylor will be thinking: 'I was the guy to come in for Pietersen in the summer and I have done nothing wrong'."

Carberry: handed another Test chance

Meanwhile, Michael Carberry - whose solitary Test appearance for England came in Bangladesh in 2010 - will head Down Under as a third opening batsman option, behind skipper Alastair Cook and Joe Root.

Hussain thinks the left-hander's swashbuckling approach to batting has earned him his place, but says he would have been tempted to recall Somerset's Nick Compton, who saw his spot at the top of the order pinched by Root before the 2013 Ashes.

The Sky Sports pundit added: "I might have erred towards Compton because he has done nothing wrong when he played and went away and did really well.

"But I think the selectors think Compton puts too much pressure on Cook and when they bat together it is too one-paced and rigid.

"They have gone for a more dynamic, one-day style player in Carberry - though he plays very well in four-day cricket, too - but Compton will be thinking: 'What have I done wrong?'."

Watch the 2013/14 Ashes live on Sky Sports and the Ashes Events Centre - available online and on iPad and mobile - from November.