Ashes July 4, 2009

Panesar provokes more questions for selectors

The Guardian's Mike Selvey believes Monty Panesar looks a better option than Adil Rashid for the Ashes. Australia have been troubled by orthodox left-arm spin, moreover, most recently from South Africa's Paul Harris, and should a second spinner be required then Panesar would provide the best option.

He picked up three tail-end wickets on Thursdayand has suggested that he will return to his default pace with little attempt at variation, which is right in some respects as he is an attritional bowler. This is right in some respects – he is best as an attritional bowler – but naive in others: the main variation he has failed to exploit, which has cost games, is to go round the wicket to left-handers when the ball turns, concentrating too much on the rough.

Paul Weaver, in the same paper, says Ravi Bopara, England's new No 3, has spent his short lifetime surprising all and sundry with his natural ability. His defining moment has arrived.

Kevin Pietersen cannot wait for the Ashes to begin. He tells the Daily Telegraph's Jim White that the first day of the second Test at Edgbaston in 2005 was the day that changed everything.

There is no modesty about KP, false or otherwise. And when you look back at that Edgbaston day, and remember him slogging Shane Warne and making a dashing 71, it was all laid out before us: that was our batting future, the soon to be indisputable crux of the England side, the man on whom all fortunes hang. And didn't he know it. Yet, incredible as it seems when you recall his assurance, his self-possession that day, it was only his second Test match. He had emerged seemingly fully formed, as if he was made for the moment.

Have England got a good 'thing' going, asks Barney Ronay in his Guardian blog. It turns out England's cricketers will be 'reconnecting' with their natural game in order to win the Ashes.

England are not exactly on the rise, Australia are not in total disarray, while both sides have strengths and weaknesses that could be identified from Pluto. Thats Peter Roebuck looking at the Ashes in the Sydney Morning Herald.

James Lawton, in the Independent, looks at what makes Australia such a successful team on the world stage.

Also in the Independent, Chris McGrath relives the history of verbal duels without which an Ashes summer really wouldn't be cricket. Wives, mothers, children – when a war of words breaks out, nothing is off-limits.

Gideon Haigh, in the Times, says Ricky Ponting's touring team may not match the 2005 crew for star quality, but their team spirit compares favourably.

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo