The 2023 men’s Ashes felt like an end of an era.

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These were two old sides. At the Kia Oval, Todd Murphy (22) was the only Australian younger than 29 while England fielded a bowling attack where speedster Mark Wood was the youngest member at 33. With two and a half years until the next Ashes series Down Under and four years until Australia are next back in the UK, it is likely that the two sides will look very different for the 2027 series.

So, from the England side, who is likely to play a part?

Of the top seven selected for England at Edgbaston, four – Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Harry Brook – are in their twenties. The others – Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow – are in their early thirties so it’s entirely plausible for any of those seven to still be a part of the side in 2027.

That said, four years is an extremely long time in Test cricket and gruelling overseas tours, such as the upcoming assignment in India in early 2024, can quickly change how a player is regarded. After all, it’s only a little more than two years since Rory Burns and Dom Sibley threatened to become England’s next long-term opening partnership. And while it’s possible for any of Stokes, Root and Bairstow to still be active Test cricketers in 2027, all three will be in their late thirties by then with Stokes and Bairstow having already overcome serious injuries in their careers.

The two top seven options on the periphery of the current set-up – Dan Lawrence and Ben Foakes – will be young enough to be in the reckoning in 2027. Neither, despite having played 31 Tests between them, have featured in an Ashes Test.

Going further afield, the Sussex opening pair of Tom Haines and Ali Orr are potential future England opening batters. The Sussex youngsters both boast impressive first-class averages (Haines: 37.15; Orr 41:18), while Haines, the older of the two, has already enjoyed a successful overseas tour with England Lions. Looking at recent England Lions squads, Lancashire’s Josh Bohannon and Surrey’s Jamie Smith are other exciting prospects. Bohannon averages 45.41 in first-class cricket while Smith has scored two 70-ball hundreds – one for the Lions – in 2023; the Surrey batter also has the additional string to his bow in being a more than capable wicketkeeper.

Elsewhere, Sam Hain has been one of the most consistent run-scorers in the County Championship in recent years. A free-scoring white-ball cricketer, Hain is a more compact first-class batter with a thoroughly pre-Bazball career strike rate of 44.86. A glance at the top of the Division One run-scorers’ charts provides another name and perhaps one of the most exciting of the lot in James Rew. Rew, 19, has five Division One hundreds to his name in 2023 – no teenager has ever scored more County Championship hundreds. Like Smith, Rew also keeps wicket. Another wicketkeeping option is Durham’s Ollie Robinson, whose batting has been reinvigorated since moving north from Kent in the off season.

Will Jacks already has two Test caps to his name and is a young player with the potential to fill a variety of roles depending on career trajectory and opportunity. Sussex teenager James Coles, who bats in the middle order and bowls serviceable left-arm spin, is another exciting middle order prospect.

In the bowling department, it can be said with more certainty that there’ll be change. After all, Stuart Broad has already retired, James Anderson will be as close to 60 as he will be to 30 in 2027 while Chris Woakes and Mark Wood will both be in their late thirties. Of the bowlers who played in the 2023 series, Ollie Robinson and Josh Tongue should still be options in four years, while the likes of Jofra Archer and Olly Stone should still be in the professional game, fitness depending. Matt Potts played in the Ireland Test at Lord’s earlier in the summer and will only be 28 in 2027.

With Stokes already a waning presence with the ball and Woakes 38 in 2027, you’d think that Sam Curran will become an increasingly enticing all-round option in the years to come. Elsewhere, Essex’s Sam Cook, a veteran of several England Lions tours and a seamer with a first-class average below 20, is almost certain to get an opportunity in the 2024 home summer, while Surrey’s Gus Atkinson is another prospect, a bowler closer to the mould of Tongue than someone like Robinson. The Overton twins will be 33 in 2027 so are likely to still be in contention. A more speculative contender is Surrey’s bowling all-rounder Tom Lawes; the 20-year-old averages 21.78 with the ball from 14 first-class games.

Bowlers, especially those capable of bowling with express speed, can rise through the ranks quickly and, at times, come from nowhere.

In the spin department, Jack Leach will be 36 in 2027, the same age as his replacement Moeen Ali was this year. Should Leach lose favour, Rehan Ahmed is the most obvious long-term candidate while Jack Carson, another Sussex youngster, is understood to be highly regarded by the current England hierarchy. Somerset’s Shoaib Bashir is another highly rated off-spinner – the 19-year-old broke into the Somerset side earlier this summer and has since featured in five consecutive rounds of the County Championship.