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Well another Ashes series over and I am sure the reviews and respective post-mortems are already under way, at least for the Australian camp. Despite the fifth test being a lop-sided affair and ending inside four days, the 2009 Ashes has been fiercely competitive and both sides have shown glimpses of test cricket worthy of the number 1 test ranking.
As is the way with all major test series, actions speak louder than words, but in all honesty, which team will undergo severe changes for the future? Ricky Ponting is once again down to his last fingernail in another Ashes series and holds an infamous record, in that he is the first Captain of Australia to lose the Ashes twice since the 1900's! But will it be his minions that will face a wielding axe, or the triumphant English team?
Ashes 2009 has definitely lived up to the hype of another big series ticket with all dramas starting with Kevin Pietersen's injuries, Andrew Flintoff's retirement and an emphatic English win. So this begs the question, where to now for team England? Flintoff retiring, Bopara's barren spell with the bat and a middle order lacking the stability required to sustain positive results. Winning the Ashes is one thing, but for the likes of Alastair Cook and Paul Collingwood, the exit door never seems to far away. Other than his Cardiff heroics, Collingwood proved susceptible to the short ball and could never seem to tighten his technique against the Aussie quicks, and Cook's 95 at Lords was the only showing of his true ability with the bat, along with his inability to convert 50 to 100. I cannot see the likes of Ian Bell or Collingwood for that matter holding their places once Pietersen is fit again, and rumours are that selector Geoff Miller is trying to persuade Marcus Trescothick out of retirement, so watch out Alistair Cook. In addition, the stunning debut of Jonathan Trott will certainly dampen Ravi Bopara's spirits, despite carving up a double hundred for Essex mid week.
However, despite this change, everyone knows the biggest impact after this Ashes will be the Freddie factor, how will England replace the versatile all-rounder? The improvement of Stuart Broad with bat and ball will be a positive for the ECB, but is he ready to bat at seven? In addition, England's bowling stocks seem to be hitting their straps at the moment and gentlemen such as Graham Onions, Ryan Sidebottom and Steve Harmison will be chomping at the bit for their future places in the squad.
You would not think a winning team would require such thought and immense change for the future, but what about the Australians? Can we as selection critics really see big 'Merv' wielding the axe on the squad members? As a batting lineup, it's obvious that Australia's batsmen were personally more successful than their English counterparts, but where does the buck stop? Michael Hussey was a big candidate for future omission, however surely his defiant hundred on a deteriorating Oval wicket will guarantee him a spot for the upcoming home series. Furthermore, Shane Watson proved to be a revelation and Marcus North is fast becoming one of my personal favourites and that's not just because of his big Lara-esque back-lift. So where does all this leave the Aussies?
The coming weeks will make for interesting reading, to see where the criticisms will be directed, no doubt Ponting and his inconsistent leadership along with the selectors decision's over the course of the tour will be the initial talk, but I certainly look forward to the upcoming home test series against an improving Pakistan. Until then, readers, your thoughts over the immediate future over the Australian test team personnel would prove interesting, but for me personally, I honestly cannot see much change, unless they start from the very top.
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