It’s the week before the season opener between last summer’s county champions and MCC, so what better a time to preview this summer’s Ashes series.
There is a lot to look forward to for cricket fans back to back Ashes test series, that’s 10 Ashes test matches to play in the next half of the year.
The Ashes preparations have traditionally been very distracting for the English players, but it seems the shoe is on the other foot now. With Australia’s whitewash 4-0 loss to India, their team is all over the place. Australian cricket has gone through a really desperate spell and only captain Michael Clarke’s batting has given the press writers anything credible to write about.
There are calls for retired past players to rejoin the fold and with Ricky Ponting scoring runs for fun in Sheffield Shield , it must be tempting! Mr Cricket (Mike Hussey) has also been mentioned in line for a recall, but most seasoned Ashes fans know this is customary hype prior to a huge sporting series.
The England batting line is taking shape, despite some worryingly low totals in New Zealand. After all the talk of moving newcomer Joe Root to open the batting, Nick Compton cemented his place in style with two centuries. It’s clear the left/ right hand combination of Cook and Compton is preferred to take the shine off the new ball and Root will have to rely on his bowling all rounder status to earn a test place.
England won’t have any excuses related to players spending time in Indian Premier League and all the focus will be on Kevin Pietersen returning successfully from his knee problems.
Fitness has surely got to be high on the selectors priority list. Australia have their concerns over Michael Clarke’s back, and Vice Captain Shane Watson has been plagued by injury throughout his career.
The order of Ashes test venues has been rejigged this year, which brings an added dimension into play in terms of team selection.
- Old Trafford
We have witnessed the exploits of Andrew Flintoff and Ian Botham, the outstanding fast bowling from Thomson and Lillee, but who of the 2013 Ashes class will be inspired to make Ashes cricket history?
England can retain the Urn if Cook and the management can settle an XI who remain fit throughout the early season and negotiate the early summer return series against a dangerous New Zealand. The bowlers are well equipped to make life difficult for Australian top order and the spin department is also well covered with Swann and Panesar having experienced a taste of Ashes victory on the 2010/11 tour.
Australia are capable of bringing their A game out in English conditions. Several of their squad are well experienced in English conditions. One such talent is Phil Hughes the top order batsman who was widely tipped early on in his career to be a stand out star of the future.
Several other Australian bowlers have served time in English county cricket, including the work horse Peter Siddle, who famously registered an Ashes hatrick during the 2010 Brisbane test. The performances of spinner Nathan Lyon in India shows they have a decent left arm spinner to target Kevin Pietersen.
It’s never wise to write off any Australian sport’s team and it won’t be long before some of the abrasive characters in the team put in top class performances to restore pride and silence the critics.
Which side will you be supporting come that first day of Ashes cricket in Nottingham on July 10th?