Ashley Mallett
Former Australia offspinner

A dark horse in the fast lane

The Ashes will be decided by the better pace-bowling attack, and Australia have plenty in that department, including the young sensation Chadd Sayers

Ashley Mallett

March 31, 2013

Comments: 76 | Text size: A | A

Chadd Sayers collected 5 for 54 to bowl out New South Wales for 157, South Australia v New South Wales, Sheffield Shield, Adelaide, February 19, 2013
Chadd Sayers topped the Sheffield Shield wickets table this season © Getty Images
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While Australia's spin-bowling cupboard appears to be as bare as Chris Martin's head, fast bowlers abound Down Under. The strong, admirable James Pattinson heads the attack, with the indefatigable Peter Siddle by his side. Mitchell Starc and a rejuvenated Ryan Harris make up the Big Four, while Jackson Bird, who reminds one of a young Glenn McGrath, must join that illustrious foursome for the Ashes series.

A dark horse hoping for an Ashes run is 25-year-old South Australian Chadd Sayers, whose medium-fast outswing returned him 48 wickets in nine Sheffield Shield matches. As the new kid on the block (in 12 first-class games he has taken 59 wickets at 20.25), Sayers is not exactly odds-on for an Ashes berth, but the Australian selectors would do well to give him consideration, for the way he got his wickets has attracted much attention.

Sayers bustles into the crease and maintains his fast-medium stuff over long periods. He has stamina and belief, but above all else he gets the ball to swing away late, reminding us of how a similar bowler, Terry Alderman, reduced the great Graham Gooch to near mediocrity on the 1989 England tour, when he emulated his 40-plus wickets in the Test series of 1981. Sayers is no flash in the pan. He often clean-bowled many a good batsman with a late-swinging ball that swept past the outside edge to hit the top of off stump. That particular delivery happened too many times during the summer for anyone to suggest that it was a fluke.

If Harris is felled by injury, I'd go for Sayers ahead of a long list of hopefuls, including Tasmania's workhorse Ben Hilfenhaus, whose arm is a lot lower now than in his halcyon days, when he was able to do as Sayers does - move the ball away from the right-handers late, thus making the batsman commit, often getting the outside edge.

The exciting thing about a genuine swing bowler is that a team doesn't have to depend so much on reverse swing.

Before Craig McDermott, during his brief stint as the Australian bowling coach, told his men to bowl a fuller length to enable the ball to swing, most of them were hurling the ball into the pitch. This meant the ball rarely had time to swing. It was called, I believe, back-of-a-length bowling.

There was a time during the 1990s when few countries, if any, had genuine swing bowlers. This led to reverse swing becoming a greater force than ever, because batsmen throughout the world had forgotten how to play the swinging ball. When Waqar Younis started to bend his reverse swingers like a David Beckham long strike at goal, you'd think the Pakistani had reinvented the wheel. Truth is, if a batsman doesn't get to play quality swing of the conventional kind he will struggle when the ball starts to reverse.

Thanks to McDermott, Australia got the message about conventional swing when he advised his bowling charges to pitch the ball up. As soon as the fast bowlers pitched the ball fuller, surprise, surprise, they started to get it to move about. It was hardly rocket science. Mitchell Johnson reclaimed his deadly late inswinger to the right-handers, Starc revealed his talent in like fashion, and so it went on. I played in an era when every state and Test team had bowlers who could swing the ball.

 
 
Ashes series are traditionally won by the team with the best fast-bowling attack. This was true even before 1921, when Australia's Ted McDonald and Jack Gregory gave skipper Warwick "Big Ship" Armstrong the gift of pace
 

Reverse swing didn't mean a lot then because batsmen knew how to cope with the late-moving ball, whether it was a shiny new ball or a scuffed-up one that went Irish. Sayers gets the ball to move late. He bowls a bit faster than Bob Massie, who took 16 for 137 in an amazing debut at Lord's in 1972.

Massie and his team-mates learnt after that game that the England captain, Ray Illingworth, took his team to a hotel and got them to watch a replay of all the wickets that fell. Apparently the film somehow got flipped, with the result that the England team watched with hilarity a left-handed Massie bowling to a right-handed John Edrich and a left-handed Geoff Boycott. It ended in farce and Illy's mob ended up doing what they should have done from the outset - gone off together for a cold pint.

Whether or not the dark horse Sayers gets an Ashes start is not Australia's greatest concern, for they have great riches in pace bowling. As it was for West Indies in the 1980s, when the likes of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall blazed their way across the world, paving the way for a new set of pace bowlers led by Curtly Ambrose, Australia can be content with the standard of its young fast bowlers. Outside of the five best - Messrs Pattinson, Siddle, Starc, Harris and Bird - there are Johnson and Hilfenhaus, both successful, Test match-hardened cricketers.

You get the feeling that Starc, with his swing and pace and terrific batting, has stolen Johnson's thunder, while Sayers looks more dangerous than Hilfenhaus. Allrounders Luke Butterworth and James Faulkner are also in the mix, so too Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

The Australian selectors know that Ashes series are traditionally won by the team with the best fast-bowling attack. This was true even before 1921, when Australia's Ted McDonald and Jack Gregory gave skipper Warwick "Big Ship" Armstrong the gift of pace, like others who followed also did: champions such as Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller, Alan Davidson and Graham McKenzie, Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee.

England found willing executioners of Douglas Jardine's Bodyline plans in Harold Larwood and Bill Voce. Later came the lion-hearted Alec Bedser, Frank "Typhoon" Tyson, Brian Statham, Fred Trueman, Bob Willis and Andrew Flintoff.

Today England have a splendidly balanced attack, which includes James Anderson, whose consistency in bowling late outswingers at a lively pace has troubled all and sundry, Steven Finn and Stuart Broad, backed by the world's best offspinner, Graeme Swann.

Australia may pick two spinners (if they can find one other than Nathan Lyon), but no matter, Swann will easily outbowl them. It is pace that will decide this series, and whichever team's batsmen are able to cope best against a constant barrage of fast bowling will win.

We've seen pathetic Australian performances with bat and ball in the recently completed series in India, and England's miraculous escape in Auckland to avoid a series loss against New Zealand on pitches that were as sluggish as strips of rolled plasticine. However, we all know that Australia and England will put on a great show in the battle for the Ashes.

It promises to be a feast in the fast lane.

Ashley Mallett took 132 Tests wickets in 38 Tests for Australia. An author of over 25 books, he has written biographies of Clarrie Grimmett, Doug Walters, Jeff Thomson and Ian Chappell

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Posted by Clyde on (April 3, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

I don't believe the Australian fast bowlers, generally speaking, bowl accurately enough. What is the use of bowling a yorker that is not actually on the stumps? What waste of energy! You see it from Australia all the time.

Posted by Beertjie on (April 2, 2013, 11:47 GMT)

@Lyndon McPaul on (April 1, 2013, 0:15 GMT) The problem with the 4 quicks you name is that you need a lefty to add the angle/variety, so Starc and Faulkner would be better back up. That might work at Trent Bridge and Chester-le-Street, possibly at Old Trafford, but not at Lords and the Oval. As I mentioned before, if Lyon proves ineffective (as many fear), I'd like a wicket-taker in the squad. If Fawad Ahmed is eligible, take him! Agar is just too young for this right now, likewise Zampa.Having Sayers in the A tour party would ensure him being first reserve alongside a few other likely candidates.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (April 2, 2013, 8:44 GMT)

Zenboomerang; Im not sure about your side think we need 6 batsmen in England. Yes Butterworth has batted well twice in shield finals when the Hobart pitch assembles a road but he bats at 9 for Tasmania so surely couldnt field a top 6 spot for Australia. Watto becomes the important 4th seamer. Its just a personal opinion as I have only seen Butterworth bowl in shield finals and seen a bit more of Sayers but reckon Sayers is quicker and swings it more than Butterworth and I believe he is a better bowler. My team would be Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja, Wade, Pattinson, Starc, Siddle/Bird?Harris and Lyon. As for back-ups I would be deciding from the A tour where they can look at Faulkner, Coulter-Nile, Sayers, Butterworth and Hilfenhaus. Batsman to chose from Smith, Fergusson, Doolan, Rogers. Take along Silk and Head for experience. With Payne to keep on the A tour.

Posted by zenboomerang on (April 2, 2013, 5:08 GMT)

Sayers seems to be another good seamer coming through - but just pipped Butterworth for the most wickets this year & Luke has been amongst the leading wkt takers in Shield for many years in a row & never gets a chance... Butterworth is also a good batter with a healthy average & in every Shield final has been amongst the leading scorers while still getting wkts - obviously someone who can stand up to pressure matches & would be very worthwhile in English conditions... I'd seriously look at a 5-1-5 team & look at Butterworth or Faulkner as the 4th seamer with Patto, Harris, & either Starc or Siddle...

Posted by zenboomerang on (April 2, 2013, 5:06 GMT)

@redneck / Edwards_Anderson / Lyndon McPaul... Adelaide Oval may have an even bounce but it is not a "batting paradise" - this year the MCG has the highest SS totals while last year it was the WACA... In Tests, using historical ground rpo (runs per over), Bellerive followed by the WACA have been the easiest to bat on by a big margin, while the Gabba & AO are nearly equal & just slightly easier than the the SCG & MCG... The Gabba was an easy wicket this year in Tests as it was in the last Ashes... The AO Test would have been won by Oz if Pattinson didn't break down (again) in the 1st innings leaving us with 2 seamers & Lyon - & with no allrounder...

Posted by hycIass on (April 2, 2013, 4:08 GMT)

If we're to have any chance whatsoever at winning the Ashes, we need technically strong batsmen. So we need an XI along these lines:

Cowan Warner Doolan Khawaja Clarke Watson Wade Starc Pattinson Siddle Lyon Harris

Its a tough call but i can't include Sayers over Harris, Siddle and Pattinson, its just too hard to.

Posted by Mary_786 on (April 2, 2013, 2:22 GMT)

I wouldn't be surprised if Sayers is a bolter for the ashes but with Harris coming back it will be tough for Sayers to get in. I expect Harris, Siddle, Patts, Starc, Bird and Johnson to be our fast bowlers in the squad. Our boys may well land a fast bowling ambush once or twice but it is difficult to see us knocking over a vastly more experienced outfit more often than their blokes bowling over our less accomplished batsmen. Anderson is a very good bowler. Finn, Broad, Onions, Bresnan should be more than adequate back up, despite some flat patches. Swanny and Monty way ahead of Lyons.Surely the selectors will not attempt to continue with this allrounder theory?Six bats and try and stay in the game as long as possible. Khawaja will be a key batsman given how well he plays swing bowling along with Clarke and Watson who as the 2 most experienced guys will have to stand up with the bat. Should be a very exciting series.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (April 2, 2013, 2:19 GMT)

Sayers has impressed me simply because the pitch he bowls most on is a batting paradise in the Adelaide oval, good on the young man for making his mark this season. @katanthat3 i also expect Khawaja to fire in the ashes but also expect big runs from Clarke and Warner as well, for me its our batting which will decide the outcome of this series as both sides are strong on the bowling

Posted by redneck on (April 2, 2013, 1:23 GMT)

i would have harris in over siddle any day. siddle is just a good honest tryer that keeps on going. the problem is he hasnt got the skill to back up his work ethic and we have too much tallent to keep perservering with him. on sayers he toped the shefield shield wicket takers playing at adelaide oval! this home ground seems to count against furgeson and klinger when it comes to batting spots in the australian team as the oval is a batting paradise. so my argument is it needs to count in sayers favor that he plays his home matches on a fast bowlers graveyard. when it comes to the ashes im not to worried about our pace stocks it is the batting that is more worrying. clarke aside cowan has the temprament to have success and hughes' county record demands he be given a shot but who else??? cosgrove should be given a shot. fat he may be but a quality first class cricketer he makes. skin folds should not be a prerequisit to making the aus team. ask boony or boof or warne for that matter!!!

Posted by whoster on (April 1, 2013, 23:26 GMT)

Even if the Aussie pace-attack turns out to be as good as some are hyping it up to be, they're still going to need big runs from batsmen other than Clarke. I can't think of any other Aussie team since the Kerry Packer-era with so many unproven batsmen in their line-up. Their batting in India was an unmitigated disaster, and regardless of the totally different conditions of India and England, that batting line-up will go into the 1st Test very low on confidence. Pattinson's the only bowler England should be worried about, and Siddle's the only other bowler guaranteed a place in the pace attack. That's why I don't think the Aussie pace-attack is that special. Surely a strong attack should pick itself? With all the off-field turmoil and botch-ups going on, this Aussie team is a shambles. Without Hussey's quality, and, even more importantly, his unifying presence in the dressing-room, this is a rudderless side crammed with inexperience and uncertainty.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (April 1, 2013, 23:04 GMT)

Ozcricketwriter - How has both Mcdermottt or Sandhu got a better record than Sayers? Sandhu only played two game. Sayers has been a success all season. To all the English supporters that are crying over this article and that of S Waugh, if you actually read both articles both writers are of the same opinion which the majority of Australian supporters share and that is going on records and form England have a better side than Australia. However, series arent played on paper and at the start of any series any team has a chance of winningt. Both writers have spelt out what all Australian fans believe that if all our players perform to what we believe they can then this is going to be a great series. Try and read the articles there is nothing about Aussie dominance, its just providing hope to the Australian public. Why do you English fans feel threatened by this?

Posted by Chris_P on (April 1, 2013, 21:10 GMT)

Definitely should be in the mix, but as you pointed out, the best performing bowlers have missed selection in the past. The pace bowling is not an issue, who to select is. The batting is a major worry, an extra spinner is only a back-up (it should be SOK) & sadly, Wade will be there to continue his impersonation of a wicketkeeper. All in all, this tour will be a major disappointment for us, the return series should offer up some more resistance, hate to say it, but you have to say how it is.

Posted by   on (April 1, 2013, 20:47 GMT)

'The Ashes will be decided by the better pace-bowling attack'

No it won't Ashley, it will be decided on who gets the most runs against those pace attacks. And I think I know the answer to that.

Posted by kallis57 on (April 1, 2013, 20:08 GMT)

Interesting article. Suggesting a series will be decided by the fast bowling options only sounds like serious straw clutching. Suggesting that the Aussie attack deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the West Indies attack of the 70's to 90's is absolutely laughable. Which one of the Australian bowlers would have got into the the West Indies team? In fact the West Indies 2nd string of the early 80's were all better bowlers than any of them. The Australian batting is a complete joke at the moment. If Clarke isn't fit they have exactly zero test class batsmen.

Posted by 64blip on (April 1, 2013, 12:05 GMT)

@Moppa Well said. Another point is that the Australian selectors don't seem to know who their best line up should be and are operating a 'one bad match and you're out' policy - look at Lyon's treatment in India. Given that none of these bowlers (bar Mitchell) have significant experience of bowling in England it will be difficult for them to find form under those circumstances. The batting is where it's at - all the top order apart from Clarke have question marks over them. How well are England going to have to bowl? For all the criticism of the England bowlers, let's wait and see how they go in the return against NZ.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (April 1, 2013, 11:50 GMT)

Mr. Mallet states that Swann is "the world's best off spinner." This is untrue: Saeed Ajmal holds that position.

Ajmal & Swann's test figs are almost indistinguishable, but in the shorter formats Ajmal has greater success. In the ICC rankings Ajmal has, for over a year, surpassed Swann in all formats. Significantly, his "best-ever" ratings are current while Swann's date back 18 to 36 months, & have since declined.

This data confirms Ajmal's status, & claiming otherwise perpetuates an ongoing disregard of his achievements, as exemplified by his omission as an ICC award nominee. This failure, or refusal, to recognise Ajmal's preeminence is disquieting, & demands correction.

Journalism requires clear distinction between opinion & fact. To ensure this, writers must stay abreast of developments, & consistently consult the records that comprise cricket's mainstay & yardstick. To ignore them does disservice to players, and negates cricket's prized egalitarian spirit.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (April 1, 2013, 11:47 GMT)

@ jonesy2 thinks that the ashes will be decided by "the batsmen who can score runs in difficult conditions & australia have them in abundance, the likes of warner, khawaja, clarke, cowan wade … watson and hughes live to score runs in the harsh situations." I'm laughing so hard I can barely type. Khawaja piles those runs up while having a harsh time because the bench is uncomfortable; once every 10 innings Warner has to score his runs in the first 3 or balls - the length of his usual innings; Watson lives to patiently wait out tough times - he can hold out for 3 overs. Aus had them in such abundance in India they had to be kept busy with homework assignments between not piling up runs!

Aus need the BOWLERS who thrive on tough conditions to score their runs - Siddle, Starc, etc. They should just pick a team of 11 bowlers. That way they'll have the batting power, and by bowling 2 over spells will have an "in match rotation policy." And no, Watson does not qualify as a bowler!

Posted by brusselslion on (April 1, 2013, 11:18 GMT)

@Jonesy2: ".. i think it will be the batsmen who can score runs in difficult conditions and australia have them in abundance, the likes of warner, khawaja, ..., wade, to a lesser extent watson and hughes, they all live to score runs in the harsh situations."

Then why didn't they score runs in India? Not harsh enough for them?

Posted by brusselslion on (April 1, 2013, 11:12 GMT)

England have problems: The seamers are nowhere near as effective as they were in 2011, and the back-ups are completely untested. We don't know if Swann will be completely recovered & the batting can be a bit inconsistent, however .... I struggle to see how any Australian supporter can be confident given the current state of your squad. Sure, you have the edge so far as the seamers are concerned but the batting is basically woeful - Clarke & to a lesser extent, Cowan excepted - and the spin department is non-existent. Add in the fact, that the WK is not Test class and the clear discipline problems and it all adds up to troubling times for Australia.

Posted by brusselslion on (April 1, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

England have problems: The seamers are nowhere near as effective as they were in 2011, and the back-ups are completely untested. We don't know if Swann will be completely recovered & the batting can be a bit inconsistent, however .... I struggle to see how any Australian supporter can be confident given the current state of your squad. Sure, you have the edge so far as the seamers are concerned but the batting is basically woeful - Clarke & to a lesser extent, Cowan excepted - and the spin department is non-existent. Add in the fact, that the WK is not Test class and the clear discipline problems and it all adds up to troubling times for Australia.

Posted by   on (April 1, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

Mitty2: Yes I think you make good points regarding Finn and Broad's speeds, Finn was quick in the first few spells but has not quite learnt how to sustain them for say half a session- however he has 80 wickets in 20 Tests so he has a solid platform to build on, a bit like say, how Starc is still learning. As for your suggestion on Tremlett, I have to say I've always preferred him to Broad.

I was being a little tongue-in-cheek regarding my reply on Clarke. I'm aware how good he is, we in England have all seen his exploits, and he will definitely be looking to improve on his 2010-11 performance. He will be crucial. This will not be another 3-1, if it is I'll be very surprised.

Posted by katandthat3 on (April 1, 2013, 10:46 GMT)

I hope Sayers, Butterworth, Faulkner, Hazlewood, Agar at least get picked for the A Tour. The first 3 should be in contention for an Ashes squad berth. We do have some excellent depth in our bowling stocks but we still have to pick the right bowlers for the right conditions. For the Ashes in the UK, my first two picked would be Harris and Bird. Pattinson & Starc are up there but I would then have either Sayers or Butterworth as the next. Siddle took a while to get going in India and finished strongly but I think there would be more dangerous bowlers with the Duke ball than Siddle. I like Johnson but not for the UK. Batting is another story altogether. I have very little to get overjoyed about with our top 6. Khawaja needs to come in at least but will wait and see how a few other fringies go on the A tour and Champions Trophy over there. Burns would still be worth a shot.

Posted by jonesy2 on (April 1, 2013, 10:24 GMT)

first choice three will be siddle, pattinson and harris but harris wont play back to back so in comes bird, starc may miss out but if they play 4 seamers he will be the fourth, sayers is a chance to tour along with probably hilfenhaus (horse for course, he destroyed england in 09) and hazlewood, sandhu also a chance to tour. if the ashes is decided by the fast bowlers as mallett suggests, england shouldnt bother turning up. i dont think it will be the fast bowlers i think it will be the batsmen who can score runs in difficult conditions and australia have them in abundance, the likes of warner, khawaja, clarke, cowan wade, to a lesser extent watson and hughes, they all live to score runs in the harsh situations.

Posted by Johnny_129 on (April 1, 2013, 9:49 GMT)

Agree with IndianInnerEdge - India could do with a bowling coach line McDermott, Bruce Reid or Waqar. Notwithstanding the recent clean-sweep of Australia, I have no faith in the current coaches of India!

Posted by Moppa on (April 1, 2013, 7:05 GMT)

The article is basically wrong, implying that a straight comparison of pace bowling can determine the series. Clearly it is relevant who they are bowling too. I think that Australia's pace attack is marginally better than England's, but the English batsmen are much less vulnerable and more likely to make you pay if you have a bad day. I agree with @regofpicton that depth in fast bowling only gets you so far, and ultimately you need three or four bowlers who consistently perform through a series. Whilst I think Australia's 10th best quick is far better than England's I really don't want him to be bowling in the Ashes! For those mentioning Cummins, he will be nowhere near the squad. For those talking about Hilfenhaus, I agree with Mallett that Hilf has lost it with his low arm, and he is also dragging the ball too short. Bird is far superior and Sayers would deserve a chance ahead of him too.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (April 1, 2013, 5:25 GMT)

Bowlers can take 20 wickets provided they get a cushion of at least 550 runs combined in both innings by their batsmen. At the moment Australia doesnt look anywhere near to be scoring these amount of runs against Anderson and Swann. Husseys retirement has hurt big time to Australia. He was the rock in the middle order who could guide the young batsmen and shepherd the tell as well. Unless England play very, very badly Australia doesnt stand a chance in long 5 match series.

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (April 1, 2013, 4:34 GMT)

After all the hype about him last year I watched patto with interest last time he was in Eng... he didn't take a wkt, something even the grisled veteran Lee managed.. patto was 0-80 off 16 and cummo was 1-53 off 10... they both obv limped back home as usual having only managed 26 overs between them in 4 odi's (1 was washed out). Even in the wildest dreams expressed on this thread these 2 new all conquering world beating vanguards of the oz bowling attack will need to bowl 20 overs a day each.... Hmmm, just a thought. And with starco already under the knife, harriso with no cartilage, and hilfy and jonno mentally scarred it Looks like smith & warner could be getting quite a lot of bowling! Bring back Quiney!

Posted by regofpicton on (April 1, 2013, 4:14 GMT)

It is true - or it appears to be true - that Oz has great depth in real quality pace bowlers. The poms, by contrast, only have 2 or 3 or maybe 4. The problem for Oz is that bowling figures don't add up in quite the same way that runs do. You could stack a team with the best 10 - no 11 - pace bowlers of all time and they are still only going to get 10 wickets an innings. But it only takes a couple of batsmen to get away and the sky is just about the limit. So how many Oz batsmen do you think might "get away"? Perhaps one, if DRS is temporarily disabled! And how many Poms might get away? perhaps the whole top 6! There's your problem in a nutshell. But it is going to be a fascinating year, what with one series and another.

Quick change of subject - can anyone explain why many Oz commentators have no regard for Smith as a batsman. He was 2nd in the averages in India, and really only got out to very good balls. But most of the time he doesn't even rate a mention. Strange!

Posted by Mitty2 on (April 1, 2013, 3:36 GMT)

@Steve back, I watched a lot of the NZ-eng series and broad and Finn have definitely lost something. Finn's lost a lot of his pace and so to broad. When not bowling well (in which we all know they can bowl fantastically), they can be very expensive and are inconsistent with line and length. It might have been the "benign" conditions, but they just didn't look threatening. Not to mention that Clarke has scored two doubles against SA and a 150 odd against them in a game where we made 47 and they made 90 odd, and steyn is a notorious outswinger, so don't worry about Clarke not being able to play the swinging ball.

Anderson is still a gun, he just needs good back up and then, only then can england's attack be world class. England need an accurate and economical quick (woakes?) to compliment Anderson or a genuine workhorse who can put in long spells. And of course, get another threatening and attacking quick like tremlett. Boad and Finn do not look the part imo.

Posted by   on (April 1, 2013, 3:35 GMT)

For all the talk of how good the young Aussie bowlers are, it's mainly based on Shield cricket, where the best batsman this season was...Ricky Ponting. Doesn't mean they won't make it, but talk of Sayers and Bird is just that - talk.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (April 1, 2013, 3:26 GMT)

lets face it mitty2, if clarke doesn`t score big runs, will the aussies score more than 250 regularly? i`d push siddle and starc up the order...i`d back them to score more runs than cowan or hughes. i fancy trundler jimmy will have more than enough for the aussie top order personally, although i would say if jimmy got injured it`d be an interesting series.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (April 1, 2013, 3:24 GMT)

Wondering where is Craig McDermott nowodays?-isn't he the Aus bowling coach anymore? Wonder if his son coming through the ranks has something to do withthis....I hope someone in inda's media, public read this and CMc is made the Indian bowling coach....Oh how desperately do we need him and his coaching strategem of 'pitching it up and bolwing it in the corridor".....Just imagine how much the likes of Ishant, Yadav, Aaron, sreesanth, bhuvan, et all will benefit....else they will be loosing their way.....coming back to the main point of this article, Aus does have a fantastic bowling lineup, but its their batting that lets them down...I am expecting a much improved show from Aus for the ashes.....Whover wins, here's hoping for a fantastic series of memorable meaningful cricket that shows that test cricketis alive and kicking!!!

Posted by   on (April 1, 2013, 2:34 GMT)

@Mitty2: "Clarke will get doubles against Finn/broad" Well considering he only averaged 20-odd with no single century in the last Ashes series against a ball that does not swing as much for so long as the Duke in England will, he might have to score plenty against Finn or Broad before Anderson repeats what he did to him lasts time.

Seriously though, with all this Ashes banter the fact that neither team is in top shape gets neglected; this will be another close series, maybe 2-1 like the last two sides. No doubt there will be the usual DVD highlights package fare along with it afterwards. Woo-hoo.

Posted by Mitty2 on (April 1, 2013, 2:28 GMT)

The good thing about patto is that unlike starc and Johnson, when he doesn't get those breakthroughs, he can still be economical, dry an end up, and still bowl at 140km/h. His control is great for a young quick, and that's why bird is our best prospect IMO, bowls at 135 with swing, and is supremely accurate, him, Sayers, sandhu, copeland are all the same types of bowlers, not really a need for them to be in the same attack. Although, as lyndon mcpaul points out, he averages 20 on a batsman friendly pitch. And also lyndon, Hobart has been more of a batters wicket recently, it hasn't really been the same since the NZ test, and funnily enough, bird's average is better away than at Hobart.

On the starc/Johnson issue, I'm fine with either one of them, just as long as their in the same attack as bird and not in the same attack together (see Perth).

On the injury matter, a squad with bird, Harris, starc, siddle, patto, Cummings/sayers and Faulkner you'd say would all have good replacements.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (April 1, 2013, 2:26 GMT)

@ Lmaotsetung. Oh, you want facts? Oval, Day 1. Morkel's bunny, Strauss, lasts 4 balls. SA attack is lame & Eng dominate. Session 3 Morkel gets Trott, & Kallis fools KP, but Eng, @ 267/3, are on top. FACT.

Day 2. Cook out 6th ball from Steyn, Bopara lasts 6 from Steyn, Bell 4 from Kallis, Bresnan 3 from Tahir. 10 overs, 46/4. FACT. Prior gets going, Broad makes a few, Philander strikes & Morkel wraps up Prior & Anderson in 1 over. Eng go from"strong position" to "all out" in 36 overs, 118/7. FACT. Day 2, SA attack rolled Eng!

Anderson gets Petersen 3rd over. Eng pumped up. Smith & Amla put up 259. Eng soggy. Tea day 4 SA declare. Eng flattened. Amla & Kallis, undefeated, made 377, 8 less than Eng. FACT. Old Man Kallis, 2/38: overated Eng attack 2/637. FACT.

97 overs & Eng rolled again. SA ave 318.5, Eng ave 31.25. The difference of 287.25 is the HIGHEST EVER. NEW RECORD. FACT.

SA win series 2-0, are #1, & Smith bags 3rd Eng skipper. FACT FACT FACT.

Lots of facts. Is it clear now?

Posted by Mitty2 on (April 1, 2013, 2:13 GMT)

@hhillbumper, if youre going to say that Australian fans made false and ironic predictions.. Then please, check out the comments of some of the articles before the NZ and England series began. "we're easily going to walk over them", "we should experiment players" and Anderson, despite getting a series average of 37, would "destroy the NZ batsmen". Not a single austrlian would have predicted us to do well with the 'selectively watered' indian pitches completely negating out strength, and the squad being terribly picked. I can't remember a single aus fan saying anything of the sort despite patto and siddle having respectable averages of 27 and 33 respectively. Anderson's was 30, but that was inflated by having yuvraj singh, gambhir and sewage to bowl to; all walking wickets

And as for your young seamers, they're arent as goo as ours (FC averages), but an attack of RJ/Topley, tremlett, anderson and swann would virtually give you the ashes. Clarke will get doubles against Finn/broad.

Posted by   on (April 1, 2013, 2:12 GMT)

@ Mitty

I think you are short one fast bowler. Given the strength of the attack and the batting resilience of the tail (one of the few high points from that wretched tour) I feel that you need to back the pacemen 100% to get the job done. My lineup in bowling order would be something like Pattinson, Harris, Cummins, Siddle, Lyon, with plenty of scope to swap out for others, like Starc, Bird, or maybe even Sayers or Faulkner as injuries, ground and form permits.

Posted by Simoc on (April 1, 2013, 1:30 GMT)

Given their histories Pattinson & Harris will get injured again as will Cummins. I like to see bowlers attack the new batsman and that is Pattinson & Johnson. I fancy Bird is a better version of Siddle. He can dry up the scoring and threaten the edge and Faulkner is far better than Henriques while Starc is better than both of them. Whatever, only Pattinson, Johnson and Starc have been able to rip through a test batting line up when they're on. I doubt the Oz batsmen are going to score enough runs in England. I'm picking England at home and Australia at home.

Posted by sifter132 on (April 1, 2013, 1:21 GMT)

"Australia may pick two spinners (if they can find one other than Nathan Lyon), but no matter, Swann will easily outbowl them" This is what was meant to happen in 2009. Yet Hauritz outbowled Swann for the first 3 Tests. And then was left out for the last 2 - one on a green top, the last at the Oval was an awful call, and lead to Marcus North bowling a lot.

I'm going off topic a bit, I think Swann isn't as good vs top competition. His record vs Aus, Ind, SA is much worse than his overall average.

Posted by   on (April 1, 2013, 0:00 GMT)

@Deckchairand6Pack Bollinger hasn't been in the frame for tests since the 2010 Ashes in which he got the one test and only took the one wicket. He seemed to go into disgrace in the eyes of the selectors (previous panel) because he 'hit the wall' and reached a point where he couldn't bowl another over when Ponting wanted a longer spell. Concerns were that he wasn't fit enough.

Since then he's started taking fitness more seriously and the current selection panel were indicating they would be considering him depending on his Shield returns. He hasn't had a bad couple of seasons, but there are so many players doing better (Sayers, McDermott, Bird, Faulkner, Butterworth etc) I don't think he's likely to come back into consideration unless he has an incredible season and a lot of guys are unavailable.

Posted by Mitty2 on (March 31, 2013, 23:46 GMT)

Ignore our obvious advantage in pace quality and depth... England have a better batting line up so it's all discounted!! Please, their batting struggled on "strips of rolled plasticine" against 130-135km/h seamers and they rarely fire collectively. Their individual line up is mug better than ours, but even in the very successful Indian series, it was usually due to KP or cook scoring the bulk of the total. Our seamers averages are all superior to england's.. But i think the english seamers experience and familiarity with the conditions will minimalize the gulf in talent. However, our batsman will play much better than in India, obviously.

My preferred bowling attack, and yes, an all rounder is never needed: Harris bird patto Lyon. However, siddle is much better than '09 and I'm not sure that my attack could graft wickets.

Tips are for a 2-1 england win in England, and reverse that for our Australia leg. Hoping to see some Clarke doubles haha

Posted by Wefinishthis on (March 31, 2013, 22:46 GMT)

Actually, almost every test series is decided by who has the best bowlers, not just the ashes, but it's a good assessment of Australia's fast bowlers. Pattinson and Harris are the obvious two best bowlers in the country. Following them, Jackson Bird has not put a foot wrong in the tests he's played and has immense potential to be better than either. Siddle is a good support bowler and is fine to have in the squad. Sayers has been extremely impressive as has Sandu, whilst Faulkner is our best left-arm option. Starc, MJ and 'haus have not taken their chances so I'd say they need to go prove themselves again at shield level. Our spin stocks are not bare by any means. Steve O'Keefe is far and away the best spinner in the country (as England found out in the pre-ashes PM's XI game) but gets consistently overlooked, Glenn Maxwell was our best bowler in India, let alone the best of our spinners. Agar and Zampa have shown great potential whilst Lyon is a good backup/secondary bowler.

Posted by hhillbumper on (March 31, 2013, 22:31 GMT)

just one thing most of these talented bowlers have played in England and did not do that great.Also given the amount of Injuries that your players suffer do we really need all this hyperbole this soon. England have some decent young pacers as well and Topley could be considered a very good prospect. This was also the bowling attack that was going to decimate India and you went how? Where as the poor pacer called Anderson put on a great display in India. Broad has routed Aus in the past and Onions and Finn are not bad either.God knows tremlett might play and then where do you go?

Posted by Greatest_Game on (March 31, 2013, 22:28 GMT)

Eng have one "all conditions" spinner, but he's aging & recovering from surgery, again. Last year he was hyped as "the deciding factor" between Eng & SA. So much for the pundits' proclamations. SA's batsmen murdered him, & even Tahir outbowled him! If Aus' "Indian disaster" taught them a bit about playing spin, he'll not be fearsome. (Eng's UAE whitewash was not repeated in India. Did they learn from it? Can Aus do the same?)

A bigger issue is that Eng's pampered "pace" bowling is fading fast. Their ave over 30, they were humbled by NZ. (Just 2 SA wickets @ the Oval. He he he). Jimmy's wonky ankle is worsening, Finn's wobbly knee changed cricket's law, & Stewie's foot is now a bit dodgy. (Been in his mouth too much!)

Eng's batting is strong, but questionable after NZ bullied them. Cook & "The Saffa Foreign Legion" vs "The Brittle Aus Pacemen" could be good cricket, but "The Pom Trundlers" vs Clarke & "The Ever Rotating Order of Homework Dodgers" will be the yawnfest.

Posted by FieryFerg on (March 31, 2013, 22:26 GMT)

@Lmaotsetung .. you mean numbers not facts. Fact was Eng lost the first test because on the second morning they couldn't push on from 267/3 as the SA pacemen stepped up and cleaned them out on a flat pitch. Similarly at Perth they won the series in an hour when they reduced the Aussies to 45/6. It's impact and winning the important moments that matters and that's where they score. Very few bowlers possess the ability to win a match in a spell but Steyn & Philander both have it and have proven it.

Posted by wellrounded87 on (March 31, 2013, 21:47 GMT)

Harris is a must for the ashes. What's going on with Cummins it seems like he's been injured for a while now surely he's due back soon

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (March 31, 2013, 20:51 GMT)

Against even the most talked about pace bowling attack that is South Africa, England still had 1st inning scores of 385, 425, and 315. In both 2nd and 3rd test Eng actually had a 1st inning lead granted it was minuscule. And don't forget in the 1st test Eng was in a very strong position of 267/3 with Cook still at the crease. It was the Amla/Kallis partnership that did it for England...NOT the much vaunted pace attack of SA and the so called overated Eng pace attack did bowl SA out twice in both 2nd and 3rd test (yes declaring with 9 down is almost the same as being bowled out). BUT HEY! Don't let the facts get in the way right?

Posted by poms_have_short_memories on (March 31, 2013, 20:49 GMT)

I'm sure even English fans would admit that the Australian attack is stronger than England's, although Jimmy Anderson is the best pace bowler that will be playing in the ashes. Swann is in a different league to Nathan Lyon but he isn't the best offie in the world IMO, that is Ajmal. I think Australia have to keep Cook, Trott and Pryor to rather modest returns, although I feel Bell is technically England's best batsman. No doubt England's batting lineup is stronger than Australia's but I'm interested to see how they will cope with the swinging ball at 140+kph.

Posted by Batmanian on (March 31, 2013, 20:41 GMT)

Nice technical appraisal, this article. I don't know what is happening with Hilfenhaus, but he is another English pitch-friendly bowler I would be considering. It is interesting, what to do with such an injury-prone stable. Keep Siddle in as a backbone, and rotate the others around him? Yes, I know Pattinson, Cummins and Harris are more talented than Sids, but I think he is still a worthy anchor.

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (March 31, 2013, 20:40 GMT)

What has happened to Douggie Bollinger? Please shed light for this proteas fan. And how about Jason Kresza? Saw him in 08/09, and he looked useful, but I guess some time has passed. If I were an Aussie fan I wouldn't worry about Swann, Tahir managed to out bowl him last summer!

Posted by Thefakebook on (March 31, 2013, 17:18 GMT)

According to Mr. Mallett if OZ pick any two spinners they will be out bowled by Swan,but what if they pick Warne and Murali??? OZ have the edge in pace department. Leo Sayers is not a medium pacer but clicks 145 ks regularly I guess that's medium for OZ bowlers.Any how they must focus on their own strength than others weakness to regain the Ashes.Steve O'Keefe is roiling in his grave after reading this line "Australia may pick two spinners (if they can find one other than Nathan Lyon)" and he is not even dead or is he for our genius OZ selectors!!!

Posted by kirands on (March 31, 2013, 17:16 GMT)

If someone who has not been following recent Australian performances were to read this article, they would think that Australia are world beaters and they have Roberts, Holding, Marshall and Garner in their attack. Ashley Mallett is living in a fantasy world, could someone wake him up please ? Among the Aussie fast bowlers I would rate only James Pattinson as world class. Peter Siddle is a honest trier and runs in hard but there is no way he will run through the English batting line-up. For all his efforts Siddle cannot take more than a couple of top-order batsmen even on his best days. How many matches has Siddle won for Australia ? Hardly any if you have been following the trend. Jackson Bird seems to be good but he is more like Ben Hilfenhaus, capable of a few wickets here and there. And Mitchell Starc --- forget it, he took two wickets in India. Mitchell Starc is better than the other Mitchell, Johnson, and that is not a big compliment. It's 3-0 for Eng.........

Posted by whoster on (March 31, 2013, 14:57 GMT)

There's a lot being said about how powerful the Aussie fast-bowling stocks are, but many of them still have to prove themselves at Test level. Pattinson looks to be the biggest danger to England, and out of the rest, only Siddle is a tried and tested performer. Harris is a quality bowler with plenty of pace, but injuries and age puts big question marks against him. Starc has potential, but at the moment, that's all it is. The same goes for Jackson Bird. England and Australia both have decent pace attacks, but the Aussies need at least three quicks to regularly bowl well to put England under pressure to make up for their lack of batting and spin options. Yes, England will be vulnerable against a good pace attack, but that alone won't win The Ashes. SA have by far the best seam attack in world cricket, but to beat England last summer, they also required terrific performances from the batsmen. If the Aussie batting remains fragile, England should win comfortably.

Posted by Pinarsh255 on (March 31, 2013, 14:48 GMT)

Batting is obviously Australia's main problem. Though Swann is way better bowler than Lyon, it is Ajmal whom I would accept as the best offie in the world. As far as Australia's pace bowling is concerned they still have to put these talented blokes on the park. With all their "informed player management system", Pat Cummins is still injured, Patto has missed near about 8 test matches and you never know when Harris is going to break down again. They have depth but they can't afford to have 18 players playing in one series. Its England's ashes to loose.

Posted by   on (March 31, 2013, 14:44 GMT)

The great John Snow who was instrumental in getting the Ashes back after 13 years is missing from Mallet's list of great fast bowlers!!!!!!!

Posted by sweetspot on (March 31, 2013, 13:23 GMT)

Ah! How exciting to have another genuine swing bowler showing up! Has Hilfenhaus really slowed down that much? Let's see him in the IPL and decide how good he is. He was fantastic last year.

Posted by blink182alex on (March 31, 2013, 12:55 GMT)

Australia have the better pace attack and we also have much more depth. If you were combining the pace attacks it would be Anderson, Harris and Pattinson.

As far as the Aus quicks always breaking down and England's not, well look at England currently. Broad was injured against India and is going to be troubled by a heel injury meaning he is unlikely to get through all 10 Ashes tests. Finn was injured twice in India and has now changed his run up, his pace in the tests in NZ was way down. Anderson didn't look fully fit in the tests either, although he should be fine. Bresnan is out injured. Tremlett gets injured more than Ryan Harris. Onions was terrible in NZ. Next in line was Woakes and he is not better than Faulker, NCN, Cutting, McDermott, Sandhu.

Ajmal is also the best off spinner in the world not Swann.

We must not forget what Mallett wrote before the India series, where he said Maxwell was a must and could be a game winner. You can put a X next to Maxwell's name 4 the Ashes

Posted by   on (March 31, 2013, 12:53 GMT)

The worst thing that could happen for Australia is if England's batsmen play the Australian bowlers on merit while their own batsmen don't play the English bowlers on merit. Thus, instead of talking up Australia's chances, experts such as Mallett and ChappellI should talk up the England bowlers instead of their own.

Posted by landl47 on (March 31, 2013, 12:24 GMT)

Aus has a very good crop of young seamers and I've said all along that they will be much better suited to English conditions than they were to the Indian slow, low turners. The injury bug is a worry, but I expect Aus to carry 6 seamers and Lyon so they can cover anyone who goes down.

However, Eng has 5 batsmen averaging over 45 in test cricket, all of whom have played more than 40 matches. Aus has an inexperienced batting line-up and only one batsman averaging over 40 in tests. Also, Aus has a predominantly left-handed line-up and Swann is excellent against left-handers. Yes, he may have to buy his wickets in England and Australia, but he gets them- 14 in 2009 and 15 in 2010/11, including a couple of match-winning performances, against a stronger batting line-up than this one.

This is the key phrase in Mallet's article: 'whichever team's batsmen are able to cope best'. We'll see who that will be.

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (March 31, 2013, 11:43 GMT)

great to see that at least some genuine cricket expert is recognising the skill sets of Ryan Harris australia's best at the moment

Posted by hhillbumper on (March 31, 2013, 11:43 GMT)

don't know why england bother playing this test series. Australia are so obviously dominant and world beating that they can win any match anywhere. I mean they haven't suffered a series setback for years have they? Oh hang on what happened recently?

Posted by   on (March 31, 2013, 11:34 GMT)

Australia have the Bowler`s, but lack batting depth, Watson is a nobody, has been, that Australian Cricket, put 10 years into. He is selfish, petulent, big-headed, and divisive, and his performances for Australia, have been below average, at best. He is a product of the former selectors, of which Hilditch, was the senior selector. Australia had and still have far better first class batsmen, depends on which state you were born in, or play for. The new Coaching set-up, will take time, too support all Aussie`, States, and realize, Phil Hughes, is not good enough over 5 days, same with Shane Watson, who can only score runs when the field is in close. They are both, good short-form players, but have shocking cross-batsmen techniques. We have 3 batting places that need replacing in our test side, and we have an excellent bowling attack, who deserve a target to bowl at. Simple as that, Peter Siddle, our bowling attack leader, top-scored, with 51, and 50 runs, against India, in Test 4.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (March 31, 2013, 11:29 GMT)

@Chris_Howard- 'England also have excellent pace bowling depth' well ,the depth of Eng was in full view for all world to enjoy including 'down under' ... not just hosts NZ, a certain old rivals in a continent close by.. The 8th team tore their bowling to shreds that even Ind's medium pacers were made to look better ...Oh ,were they even any where close to getting 20 out in a 3 match series ?? Not . At least Aus batting is just good....or bad? ...as NZ Without Clarke . You would expect a great bat like Clarke to make some serious pickings of a mediocre bowling in a 5 matches and Eng is 1 of his most favourite opponents .Only need some of his 'specialist' bats to give him more of support . Then the Aus pace will do the rest...

Posted by FieryFerg on (March 31, 2013, 11:28 GMT)

If this goes as well as his predictions for Maxwell in India, get down the bookies and put the house on Eng! Also remember none have any track record in England and certainly didn't look too clever in the ODIs last summer. Brett Lee's record in Eng was awful so just coz you take wickets on home pitches doesn't mean they'll succeed in England. Both pace attacks are over-rated - at the moment SA's main trio are way ahead of the rest as a unit and Steyn is way ahead of everyone.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (March 31, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

Boy, the already daunting list of world class pacers in Aus' stock just get's better and the S Africa 'A'....err...the English are already feeling helpless about the barrage of pace about to hit them . It is all but certain now that barring heaps of seasonal rain only may help Eng being decimated in the Ashes 5-0 . By the way, ...Fawad Ahmed making it to Aus Ashes side is a looming possibility and that means Aus have a world class spinner in their ranks at last and it just adds to Eng's woes .... Oh ,and county trundler Anderson is not going to scare decent tail enders ... less said of rest of the popgun bowling the better...

Posted by   on (March 31, 2013, 10:36 GMT)

Again, for the naysayers, everyone concedes that the English batting lineup is stronger than the Aussie lineup. What almost no-one mentions is that the Aussie quick bowling stocks are far stronger than any prospective English players. Pattinson - average 23. Siddle - average 28. Cummins - took 7/117 on debut vs South Africa! Harris - average 25. Plus Bird, Starc, Faulkner, and the (now) second stringers Johnson and Hilfenhaus. The Aussies also have the depth to rotate in the inevitable case of injury. It is baffling as to why everyone is so quick to totally dismiss the chances of the whole team.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (March 31, 2013, 10:32 GMT)

Things is, England also have excellent pace bowling depth. And there' s nothing to suggest the Australian bowlers are better than the English ones. Oh, and Aussie pace bowlers seem to break down more than English ones, which is another worry for us.

Consider too last Ashes we had Ponting, Hussey, Clarke North, Katich, Haddin and (an in-form) Watson making runs, and Australia scored more runs than the English across the series and we still lost!

If we couldn't win with that batting line up out scoring the English, how the heck do we think we can win with the likes of the one that was on display in India?!

So personally i still think it will be England's better batting that makes the difference.

Posted by tony122 on (March 31, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

I think the author is being a little too patriotic here. He belittles the great Pakistani pace bowling. Even though i am Indian I enjoyed their bowling as any cricket fan would. Reverse swing is an entirely different thing than conventional swing. First you can swing the old ball with it when batsmen would have otherwise have it easy. And reverse swinging ball often swings late than conventional swing. And ball will sometimes go just a hint on one direction for most of it's trajectory and then suddenly swing in the opposite direction massively right at the end. That is the real magic of swing bowling. And Test matches are not just decided by fast bowling as so have been Ashes. Both play equal parts. There is a great gulf between standard of Aussie and English batting . England have of course have better spinners. Even in fast bowling I will put them as equals. Aussie bowlers are still young and maybe a tad overrated-time will tell. But at the moment English bowling is more experienced.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (March 31, 2013, 9:11 GMT)

Sayers is a must for the Ashes as his bowling is perfectly suited the conditions. As the article says, he is extremely accurate, swings it late, and gets plenty of bowled and LBWs, ie T.Alderman but quicker. You have your automatic selections - Siddle, Pattinson, Harris, and then you pick 3 others that will excel in UK conditions. Sayers is one of them. As for "the other spinner", have none of the experts heard of OKeefe? Do they not rate him or is his name censored by CA?

Posted by amitgarg78 on (March 31, 2013, 8:04 GMT)

Siddle isn't going to scare anybody! Neither is Johnson. Starc, pattinson and cummins may be able to do more damage but the reality is there is an acute shortage of batting pedigree in Aussie lineup. So it doesn't matter who bowls if they stay incapable of stringing together partnerships.

Posted by   on (March 31, 2013, 7:49 GMT)

I've been reading about Agar recently. A left arm orthodox bowler has been missing from Australian cricket for awhile and Ashley could probably 'tune him up' so that he plays for them in the near future!

Posted by   on (March 31, 2013, 7:47 GMT)

with fast bowling australia needs a quality spin bowler as well as there betting should also improve . players like dave warner and shane watson should take up the responsibility.

Posted by Beertjie on (March 31, 2013, 7:18 GMT)

Very interesting call on Sayers. Many prefer Butterworth, but who knows? Can they make the move upward? You may be right, Ashley, about Lyon, but if Fawad Ahmed makes the team via his passport Aus. has a shot at out-bowling Swann at Old Trafford and the Oval or do you disagree? He's the short-term future while Agar and Zampa learn their trade.

Posted by   on (March 31, 2013, 7:01 GMT)

This is crazy! I hope the Australians understand that their batting needs to fire to have a prayer of winning the Ashes. Their pacw bowlers are going to break down during the series and if there are not enough runs on the board, however good your pace bowling stock is, it is not going to win you games. Going by current form, England will win it at least by a margin of 2 matches.

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