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Ashes 2009 Preview:Can England Re-Discover Their Swagger?

Unstable Top order and lacklustre bowling, is it all doom and gloom for England? Now with all the hype about the shift of the IPL, its impact on the game and the literal take over by the BCCI of world cricket, one cannot help but wonder about the upcoming Ashes series in England this year. What was once the most revered series in world cricket, is now falling away behind the glitz and glamour of the IPL and its big money stars.

However with the Ashes approaching, here is a look at the make up of the probable English Bowling Outfit and their upcoming series with the number one rebuilding Aussie team looking to hold onto the Urn.

Every cricket lover knows how to win a test match: is it by churning out century after century on batsmen friendly wickets? No. The number 20 should be the most important number on every player's mind, 20 wickets equals a win.

Going to the Caribbean sipping on ale whilst playing a bit of cricket on the side looked to be the mindset of the English team, and they were quickly brought back to reality with a crushing innings defeat at the hands of a meagre West Indian team. 

This was a tour marred with complaints, umpiring deficiencies and of course the ever present 'KP Spat'. After being bundled out for 51 in the second dig of the first test, the rest of the series may have showed graceful batting on docile pitches. But their biggest concern going into this ashes series must be their bowling? Unable to take 20 wickets in either of the 3 following tests, makes it hard to believe that this current crop of England bowlers can in fact penetrate the Australian line-up, I for one cannot see them doing it, but when at home anything can happen just like the last Ashes series in England. 

Typically unsettled, the tour of the Caribbean saw the selectors try over 8 bowlers, with nothing to show for it other than the positive work ethic of the toiling Graeme Swann. If they are to stand any chance of getting 20 wickets this Summer they need a fit Harmison, Flintoff and if ever possible the crippled Simon Jones. The likes of Anderson and Broad will continue to improve, but to regain the Urn they require immediate results. As is commonplace in contemporary English cricket, their lack of depth shines through with re-occurring injuries. With the powerful pace battery of Harmison, Flintoff and Jones aging and crippled regularly, gaping holes shine through of their reserve fast bowling department. I mean honestly, can one see the likes of Sajid Mahmood, Liam Plunkett and Ryan Sidebottom carrying this line-up throughout a gruelling 5 test series against an improving Australian team?

Therefore the spinners should carry a fair workload on their shoulders as Strauss should turn to them on regular occasions. Swann, in my opinion is the best spinner English selectors have to choose from and he proved his worth in the first 2 tests he played in the Caribbean with two 5 - wicket hauls on flat un-responsive pitches, so his selection really is a no-brainer. Clearly more confident and capable than Monty, Swann showed good toil with many overs throughout a long tour and displayed the variety England need in a spinner. Swann flighted, darted and turned the ball regularly, whilst his bowling partners were dispatched to all ends of the Caribbean. 

After returning with 1/122 off 47 overs in the first test, Monty continued to show his usual signs of 'Dart - Like' Finger Spinners, with lack of variety and an inability to vary his pace and Flight, leaving the door wide open for Swann who took his chance with open arms. Which begs the question, is Monty finished? Bursting on the scene with nearly 100 wickets in quick time, the opposition have reacted to his lack of variety with strong counter-punching and aggressive batting. Despite being recalled for the final test, Monty still needs to show the world that he has much more than a stock delivery and close the door on the younger and consistent Adil Rashid, hot on Monty's heels. 

So yet another Ashes approaches, who will emerge triumphant? No doubt in my mind who that will be, and after their morale boosting victory over the Proteas, the Australians will be looking to inflict more pain on this controversial England squad. I can only hope that Freddie, Harmy and dare I say it, Simon Jones be fit for this series in order to provide some form of competition. 

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