A couple of years back when the ‘back to back’ Ashes was announced many people wondered the effect of England and Australia playing each other so often in the space 6 months. To date it feels like we’ve played Australia 696 times this year alone with the Champions Trophy, Ashes, T20 series and ODI’s ensuring hardly a week went by without England playing Australia at least once.
It’s therefore worrying that it all begins again before the end of the year and come November, a percentage of the population will be staying up past midnight as we do every 4 years, watching cricket into the small hours. The 15 month wait between home and away Ashes series always allowed teams to analyse their failings or successes in the preceding series, blood and drop certain players and each team would normally play South Africa or another leading Test nation in between the series. No such luck this time as the immediate turnaround means that the teams that line up against each other in Brisbane in November could be identical to the teams that finished the 5th Test in London in August.
I’m sure that in the week leading up to the first Test I’ll get the same feelings of nerves and excitement that we all do before an away Ashes series but I’ll miss the buzz and anticipation that normally starts around the start of October. The articles written on the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams and how everyone thinks it will pan out are enjoyable as we often don’t know too much about the Aussies approaching a fresh series. Unfortunately as English Cricket fans we know quite a lot about this Australian team and what they’ve got – part of the magic has been lost to generate money for the two cricket boards I feel but I’ll be as keen as ever when the first ball is bowled at the GABBA.
England’s 17 man squad for the tour down under contained a surprise or two. England’s squad contains 3 debutants in Gary Ballance, Ben Stokes and Boyd Rankin. Monty Pannesar finds himself back in the quad as the backup spinner after urinating on a bouncers head (yes, really) had seen him temporarily fazed out of the England set up. Michael Carberry was a surprising pick and the unlucky Graeme Onions and Nick Compton missed out.
Worryingly Tim Bresnan will miss the series due to injury – a big blow for England. Ballance is a fine young player who has been tearing it up at Yorkshire by scoring mountains of runs. Boyd Rankin has been performing well for the Lions and his county side and was one of the few to come out of England’s ODI side with any credit against the Aussies. Steven Finn retained his place in the squad and with Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett; England have 4 bowlers over 6ft 5” in height on this tour. Pace and bounce.
England’s dismissing of Nick Compton has been discussed before and I can see the logic, but I don’t think Carberry has done anything to show he’s Test standard in the last couple of years. He plays Division 2 cricket for Hampshire and scored only 1 century this season. There’s no way he’ll play unless there are a couple of injuries, but Compton in my opinion is by far the better batsmen.
The squad for the away Ashes tour isn’t important as it once was as at the same time the development party tour Australia so players can be drafted in if need be.
I can’t believe it’s all starting again but we may as well enjoy the ride. We’re going for a 4th straight Ashes victory which would be truly historic. You also get the sense that some of the over 30’s players could well be in their last Ashes series in Australia, or even their last Ashes series. I’m hoping for a big series – this Australian team are full of bull shit and average players – but are sprinkled with brilliance. They’ve been humiliated for long enough and they’re making derogatory noises about us (already) and they’ll be up for it.
To beat them again, in their own backyard will be sweet.
Probable England Starting XI at midnight 21st November:
Cook (c) Root Trott Pieterson Bell Ballance Prioir Broad Swann Anderson Rankin
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