Thursday November 21st – January 7th
Venues & UK Start times:
Brisbane: Thursday – 00.00
Adelaide: Thursday 5/12 – 0.00
Perth: Friday 13/12 – 02.30
Melbourne: Wednesday 25/12 – 23.30
Friday: Thursday -02/01/14 – 23.30
So it all begins again this Wednesday night/Thursday morning as we once again face old enemy Australia in the return Ashes series in Australia. I wrote over the summer about the gloss and excitement being taken off the series because of the quick turnaround, so I’ll not repeat myself here except to say I’ve finally caught the Ashes Hype Bug about a month later than usual because of the regularity of playing the Aussies.
It’s not had the immense build up as the last few occasions but now we’re days away I’m fully in Ashes anticipation mode and like many of you reading this I cannot wait until 11.30 PM on Wednesday when that ‘all important’ first ball/hour/session/day/match (delete as appropriate to fit media narrative) of the days play is played out.
Regular readers of this blog will know I have a certain dislike of this Aussie team and in particular their lack of respect for the England team and their outrageously arrogant claims made by them in their media or by their media which at times are more laughable than offensive. They haven’t let me down this time with Shane Warne and Michael Clarke spouting most of the bull-shit pre series.
Warne has AGAIN regurgitated his ‘negative’ label of Ashes winning Captain Alistair Cook. He’s also AGAIN gone on about Michael Clarke, match losing captain in 7 of his last 9 tests, in gushing terms. Much of the Aussie media narrative has centred around England’s ‘unsettled’ line up and how Australia are playing out of this world cricket with one day hero George Bailey coming into their team, as a 31 year old debutant.
England look likely to start opener Michael Carberry in his 3rd ever test match as Cook’s opening partner which allows Joe Root to drop down the order to the number 6 spot which he’s excelled so well at earlier this year. This is an admission to me that the decision to drop Nick Compton for Root before the Ashes was a poor one and that experiment hasn’t worked out at all well. Then again this England team have been so successful since 2009 they’re allowed the odd mistake.
If Carberry works out in Australia then everything will be okay. It’s a tough ask to come into an Ashes series away from home when trying to cement a place but Carberry seems to have the temperament to handle the occasions and his form in the warm up games has been sensational. Apart from Matt Prior’s injury, which may see him miss the first test, England have a full strength squad to select from. The only selection dilemma is who will partner Swann, Anderson and Broad and it looks like Tremlett will get the nod. Since his renaissance as Test Cricketer in Australia 3 years ago he’s been blighted by injury and his form has been shaky at First Class Level. Compared to Graham Onions’ record Tremlett’s form is embarrassing but the selectors obviously believe he has it in him to re-produce his 2010-11 form and his economic bowling will see him get the nod over Finn.
The Aussies have a fairly settled team (for them) and apart from Bailey the much derided Mitchell Johnson comes into the team. One of England’s best players the last time we were here I can honestly say I’m absolutely delighted he’s back in their team. His form in One Day International’s has been good and on his day he’s a world class bowler. As we all know Johnson produces 1 brilliant spell for 15 utter dross spells and I like those odds. In addition the great asset the Aussie’s have is the pressure Siddle and Harris can build with their accurate bowling. Enter Mitchell Johnson. No doubt the Australian camp see the other side of this argument: they’ll believe that due to the control their other bowlers can exert will ultimately allow Mitchell to spray it about a bit without disastrous consequences. He’s been dropped more times than Mike Williamson and still gets more chances. Let’s hope he doesn’t have a purple patch akin to our excellent-of-late centre back!
So the two teams are pretty much identical to the last three games of the last series in the Summer and that leads me to believe that England should once again have way too much for Australia. It won’t be 3 0. England’s record at Perth is so poor there’s a chance Australia could do what they haven’t done since January 5th this year – win a test match.
Neither side has played a Test since the farce at the Oval and for that reason Englaand should win.
The Aussie’s were beaten in India in a mammoth ODI series and their selectors have brought Johnson and Bailey into the side on the back of ODI form, something England used to do in the bad old days and get ridiculed for it.
England are just a better cricket team than Australia. The players are used to winning, used to demolishing teams and bouncing back from defeat. The Australian’s on the other hand are used to losing, and often losing big. Their batting will be humiliated at in at least two innings this series, not something you can say of England.
It’s certainly not going to be easy. It never is over there (actually it was really easy last time we were there, but never mind that) and I think that England will have to play a lot better than they did in the Summer to win the series. If we do win the series it’ll be four in a row, which will be a beautiful, brilliant achievement.
I’m confident Cook, Trott, Bell & KP will score big and the Aussie’s still don’t have the batting consistency to win more than 1 Test match in a series. England’s bowling unit rarely lets them down and we have the experience of winning big test series. Apart from Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, not one Australian player has played in a winning Ashes series.
I think we’ll win again, narrowly. If Michael Clarke gets injured we’ll win 5 0. I’m really looking forwards to the next 6 weeks of Test cricket and hopefully there’ll be more than one occasion where I wake up at 6am having fallen asleep in front of the TV/radio wondering if what I’d heard was a dream or reality like in 2010. Sleepless nights, groggy mornings, feeling like you’ve stayed up into the early hours for absolutely nothing and planning nights out around coming in pissed to catch the last session are all part of the experience of an away Ashes series.
I can’t wait.
- Brisbane: Draw
- Adelaide: England
- Perth: Australia
- Melbourne: England
- Sydney: Draw
Top Run Scorer: Alistair Cook (England)
Top Wicket Taker: Stuart Broad (England)
Result: 2 1 England