Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Ashes Preview

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This years Ashes series has been hyped up to be one of if not the best cricketing event ever, but is it really going to be that good? Or are we just going to see Australia return to there old habits of rapping up test matches inside 4 days. Following is an in depth preview of this years Ashes series.

The English side has been decimated by injury. Key components of the previous Ashes victory in, Michael Vaughn, Simon Jones and Marcus Trescothick are not available. Big question marks hang over the form and fitness of strike weapon, Steve Harmison as well as keeper Geraint Jones. The bowling line up is far from settled with a big decision to be made over who will get the spinning berth in the first test. Unfortunately for English fans, the high command looks like preferring Ashly Giles because of his superior batting and fielding skills. Yet the question that needs to be asked is whether he is good enough to be a strike bowler like Monty Panesar, in my opinion he isn’t.

On the other hand, the Australian team now looks settled after the injury to Shane Watson. Michael Clarke will get the number 6 spot with Stuart Clarke being the third seamer to accompany Brett Lee, Glen McGrath and Shane Warne. The batsmen - bar Ricky Ponting - are all in sublime form and will be happy to be away from the seaming tracks of England and turning wickets of India, the quick bouncy wicket of the Gabba will be much more familiar.

The key to this series will lie with Australia’s bowling which can look fragile at times when Warne is not bowling, and England’s batting who will have the big job of putting the runs on the board so that there bowlers have something to bowl to. The English batting line up looks brittle. Cook will have the big job of facing and blunting the new ball with Andrew Strauss. If unable to combat the new ball then England might as well pack up and go home. The likes of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff work best when they are on top and the bowlers are down. This allows them to display there attacking style and allow them to take the game away from the opposition. When under pressure, this is not possible and hence they can easily crack under the pressure.

One thing which will be working in favour of the English batting line up is the recent form of the Australia seam attack. Lee had a forgettable Champions Trophy and has been quite up and down for a while before that. McGrath has just come back from a long lay off and although economical still seems to be lacking that killer instinct that once terrorized batsman around the world. He has become a much more maligned force. Warne on the other hand will be a totally different story and England must be able to combat him to have any chance of winning.

On the other hand, all the English bowlers should bowl to their strengths and for all over them bar Steve Harmison, it is pitching the ball up and allowing it to swing. That should not be a problem for Matthew Hoggard but Jimmy Anderson has already shown on this tour his ability to pitch the ball a tad too short, if done in the tests , it could spell the end of England’s Ashes campaign. Panesar must be played as he is a strike weapon, unlike Giles who can’t even contain batsmen on most occasions. To win a test match, wickets must be taken and unfortunately Giles does not have this ability. The only way he has got wickets in the past is by boring batsmen or allowing them to slog him to catchers on the boundary. Panesar can be used as an attacking weapon and has the ability to bamboozle the Australian batsmen who dislike facing spin bowling.

If England plays to its potential, this series could live up to the hype surrounding it. If not then this could be the biggest let down in history. Although I would like England to win, I am predicting Australia to win 4-1. All will be known soon.



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