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The Ashes > England v Australia – Preview of the Test Series

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Preview of The Ashes Test Cricket – England v Australia

Not long now until the two old foes rejoin in battle for The Ashes; the start of two series this year for the bragging rights between these two great countries

Although it may seem a foregone conclusion that the Aussies will turn up and get whipped, there is usually a twist or two in store – none of the players will be forecasting whitewashes after previous indiscretions of such sort but there are obviously plenty who think this will be an easy win for the English as the Aussies seem ill-prepared, out-of-sorts and incapable

The England 13-man squad has almost twice as many caps as the Aussie full squad but sometimes having players who aren’t battle-scarred can work in your favour; Clarke is playing the series down whilst Cook is doing the reverse, building it up – how these approaches will work is anyone’s guess but I’m sure it will be closer than the majority of people think. I can see England easily winning 3 tests but I guess the weather will intervene at some point and the Aussies may well find something in one of the tests (be it a huge partnership or an inspired bowling spell) and could pinch a test

Schedule

1st Test > 10-14 July, Trent Bridge
2nd Test > 18-22 July, Lord’s
3rd Test > 1-5 Aug, Old Trafford
4th Test> 9-13 Aug, Durham
5th Test > 21-25 Aug, The Oval

Recent History

England won the Ashes back in 2010-11 and I remember seeing them in Adelaide on that tour – they were completely dominant and there was a huge gulf in class between the teams. Not much has changed although Clarke has really stepped up a gear for the visitors (averaging 66 since being made Captain compared with mid 40s previously) – they could well get beaten handsomely here but I think they have it in them to win a test; 3-1 again as in that series wouldn’t be far out I think. Obviously there a lot of pundits predicting a zero for them regarding wins but there can be sessions/days when someone steps up and swings the game; equally, England have been known for making a mess of situations sometimes and under-performing against perceived weaker opposition so there is definitely a case for the tourists to pick up a test along the way

Form

England are obviously the team in form as the Aussies are off the back of a dismal 4-0 sweep in India; England have beaten NZ 2-0 (2) recently after touring and drawing 3 Tests in NZ – prior to that they won 2-1 (4) in India which was impressive as the Indians are usually dominant on their home soil

Australia have shown glimpses of form but really have relied on Clarke too much – their off-field well-documented problems haven’t helped but I’m sure Lehmann will be getting them into a well-moulded unit as much as he can despite only having a couple of weeks with them

Players to watch out for

England > Joe Root is an interesting one with him likely to open; guess he will have some success as he is a decent player but he will no doubt be targeted by the Aussie bowlers. This could be the making of him but settling in at 5 would be a better plan, he’s thrust into the firing-line at the top mainly due to Compton not securing that position it seems. Trott will be his usual self and may well be the top run-scorer this series. Prior has been superb in recent times scoring plenty of runs and being really important for saving innings with attacking play batting at 7. He will no doubt continue in that vein and could plunder plenty of runs against a weakening or dis-spirited attack if England get off to decent starts

Pietersen is obviously back and in form but you could pick any of the 4 or 5 to be top scorer, there doesn’t seem to be much value about. Cook is clearly a key batter but is unlikely to repeat his 700+ run tally from the last tour down under against Australia

Bowling-wise, Broad is a really good performer and although can go off the boil, he could get amongst them and pick up plenty of wickets. Anderson is a great bowler and all of the attack will no doubt have good days. A good bet may be for Broad on runs/wickets as when he’s good, he’s really good

Australia > Clarke has been absolutely superb in the past couple of years and really will be expected to carry the team; Watson however should really flourish and I think he has a bit of a point to prove – without bowling, he can really let rip and I can see him having a couple of big centuries, he really could be the one to get the Aussies off to a good start and he may well end up holding the innings together with his captain if the others perish around him. I expect him to knock a brisk 70 or 80 without too much trouble but if he really concentrates then he could go on to make a big ton and that would really help the others further down the line-up.

Hughes has improved but still isn’t convincing at the top level whilst Cowan is dour but can’t find the big scores. Rogers is risky and whilst useful, is probably expected to provide resistance rather than inspiration at the top. Obvious shout for Watson but he is pivotal as Clarke will really need help and without the likes of Ponting and Hussey then it’s time for Watson to prove his worth. He is definitely worth looking at in the top bat markets. Clarke is superb but there are still injury doubts and it’s hard to expect him to keep scoring tons and double tons

Bowling-wise,Pattinson should make a few people raise their eyebrows as he looks to have a bit of a special quality about him – he can ruffle a few feathers and could be a good find. 40 wickets in 10 Tests bodes well and if he’s fit and firing well then there should be something in the tracks to suit him. Starc may well become an all-rounder by the end of the series, Siddle will no doubt be solid and Lyon may have one good match in him wicket-wise

Prediction

Series > England win 3-1

England have a strong consistent batting line-up and are getting to that nice position of knowing that one of the top 5 or 6 will probably get a decent score. They have some useful late runs too and in comparison, the Aussies don’t have this solidity or consistency. They have the odd good score in them but will probably be down on 1st innings mostly which means a hard slog for their bowlers. Again with the bowlers, they will have the odd good session but England have a balanced and strong attack and will mostly prove too strong for them.

Thus, England are likely to set the Aussies big totals to win (or conversely have small totals to chase) and should be able to knock them over twice; I’m assuming one drawn test due to inclement weather or a peach of a batting track where 500 v 500 are the initial scores. The Aussies though are still a reasonably good side despite the criticism and could win a Test

1st Test >

The Aussies are being coy but the probable team is >

Shane Watson
Chris Rogers
Ed Cowan
Michael Clarke (c)
Phil Hughes
Dave Warner
Brad Haddin (w)
James Pattinson
Mitchell Starc
Peter Siddle
Nathan Lyon

> there is a chance that Cowan will get the no 3 spot with Hughes possibly dropping down to 5 and Smith or Warner missing out – it is unlikely that Warner will revert to opening and Rogers seems to be sure of getting a chance there

> Regarding the bowling quartet, Siddle should get the nod although Harris has a squeak; I think it is unlikely he will be picked however so expect this side to start

Trent Bridge is generally a result pitch and with the weather being decent, we can expect a result again hopefully – the obvious choice is England with Cook/Trott likely to be heavy scorers, Anderson may pick up some wickets and the Aussies will probably lose despite runs from Clarke & Watson. But truth is often stranger than fiction so I’m thinking along the lines of again an England win, but maybe with a few less likely stars; it wouldn’t surprise me to see them bat first but then the Aussies get them 20-3 or something – and then they rely on Bell and Prior maybe to get out of the hole… expect Pattinson to be an early success. Then a big 2nd innings may help the hosts and the Aussies may crumble at the tail-end of the game but I really do think there will be surprises although the final result will probably be the obvious one.

 

About Author

* UK born, now live in sunny Australia * Specialise in golf & football but also dabble on the nags, cricket, US sports, AFL, etc * Always looking to go against the flow and tend to trade most of the time

4 Comments

  1. So England didnt get the first innings lead thanks to that stunning effort from Agar; but they have bounced back well in the 2nd innings (mentioned Bell helping them) and now this test is going pretty much as predicted

  2. 2nd Test >

    Looks like the in-fighting (albeit denied) could cause a problem; Shane Watson may soon find himself somewhat isolated and really does need to convert as he isn’t producing – he’s got himself back opening but really needs to silence some critics with a ton

    England may well take this more seriously after what seemed a low-key approach at times at Trent Bridge – they no know the Aussies won’t roll over as easily as some may have thought

    Be interesting to see how the pitch plays and with the weather set fair, then the likely result is and England win as they will no doubt score more and have the more potent attack – the Aussies need solid efforts and plenty of runs from their top 5

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