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These are challenging times for England cricket fans. For decades, we have prided ourselves on our pessimism and our ability to support the team in the face of repeated failures. However, as this summer's Ashes series approaches, we find ourselves in a situation where Australia appear in disarray and England are being spoken of as huge favourites by almost everyone who cares to pass comment, including by many Australians. How can we possibly hope to fulfil our role in this climate? It's times like this when you need to up your game. Let's accentuate the negatives.
Joe Root's due a poor score
I've covered the concept of being "due" a good score previously. It is - presumably - based on the premise that batsmen have a finite number of runs to apportion as they see fit. When a batsman is performing poorly, team-mates, coaches and the opposition will always talk of him being due a big innings.
The corollary of this is that a run of good scores is actually cause for concern because it indicates that the batsman in question has been frittering away his stock of runs carelessly. Joe Root is young and inexperienced and the early part of his international career has revealed that he is unfamiliar with the concept of setting aside runs for later. This is incredibly worrying.
Pretty much every single Australian batsman is due a score
For exactly the same reasons, Australia are highly likely to score well over a thousand runs in each of their innings this summer. Their batsmen have been scrimping and saving for a long time now and have a huge stockpile of runs just waiting to be put to use.
England will be tired
All these semi-finals and finals while Australia have been indulging in much-needed rest and recuperation.
Mitchell Johnson is about eighth choice seam bowler for Australia
There is almost no chance that Johnson will play an Ashes Test. This means that someone else will be bowling his quota of overs. It doesn't much matter who.
James Anderson is making life too easy for everyone
Jimmy has been bowling so well of late that the other bowlers haven't really felt the need to play competently, while the batsmen have been able to get away with lower scores. He has basically been serving as a grumpy Lancastrian safety net for his seam-bowling colleagues and as a hammock for the batsmen. If he comes down with a nasty case of rickets or tuberculosis, his layabout team-mates are likely to be exposed.
Fawad Ahmed is originally from Pakistan
Never mind the fact that he only took 1 for 100 against mighty Gloucestershire, Fawad Ahmed is originally from Pakistan and could therefore conceivably convince England's batsmen that they are back in the UAE, batting like novices. This is actually slightly less of a worry than some of the other issues, as the illusion would also require the other ten Australian cricketers to remain mute, and also a large degree of cooperation from the British climate - neither of which seems particularly likely.
Boof will be in Walkabout
Fun-loving Australian opening batsmen better watch themselves now that Darren Lehmann's in charge, because there's every chance that he too is going to be in the pub. This means no drink-fuelled misbehaviour other than official, Boof-approved drink-fuelled misbehaviour.
Boof will make Walkabout count
Lehmann is also a man with extensive experience of converting beery bonhomie into runs. The more he enjoyed himself off the pitch, the more impact he seemed to have on the pitch. If he can make late-night Aussie socialising become a major positive influence on performance, England really are in trouble.
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